Earlier this week, the Parramatta Eels visited Ronald McDonald House Westmead during their family Christmas party to spread some Christmas cheer ahead of the festive season with the patients and families currently doing it tough.
A regular visit on the Blue & Gold calendar each year, this year was extra special with the Eels donating hundreds of gifts collected from the Eels Giving Tree.
The Eels Giving Tree was set up last month, with an overwhelming amount of presents and donations coming from Eels players, staff, Members and corporate partners to be distributed to our community partners Ronald McDonald House, Westmead and Giant Steps.
“There are so many beautiful kids here so it’s been really nice to be able to give them something special for Christmas,” said Parramatta Eels CEO Jim Sarantinos.
“I would really like to thank all of our staff, our players and some of our Members and sponsors who have contributed to the Eels Christmas giving tree. It was a great sight to see hundreds of presents underneath the tree, and to be able to share with the kids of Ronald McDonald House, Westmead which has been really special.”
Eels player Dylan Brown was a favourite with the kids and families from RMH and the young half loved the day.
Brown is an ambassador and has a fond connection with Ronald McDonald House Westmead.
“I love being an Ambassador here at RMH because the smiles we get to give to the kids, and days like this over Christmas and Easter. I came here in the holidays and seeing the kids, who love hanging out and talking, to be able to do that for them, that is the big thing for me and the rest of the Club,” Brown said.
“They are doing it tough and it’s Christmas and you want to be with your family. I was talking to some of the patients and families who will manage to get home at Christmas and New Years, but the majority of them are here. Ronald McDonald House do such a good job and we are just happy enough that we can come down and add to that.”
“I love coming out here to the House. I am sure the kids like getting presents but we love getting into the Christmas spirit, putting smiles on faces and hanging out with the kids,” Brown added.
“One of my kids, he asked for a Nerf gun from Santa, and he got it! He was cheering, and it started a war, but it was all in a bit of good fun and the kids loved it!”
Eels deliver presents to RMH Westmead ahead of festive season
The day is always a special visit on the calendar for Ronald McDonald House.
“It’s great to have the Parramatta Eels down here again. Having the boys down visiting our families, during what is already a difficult time is really bringing some cheer to their day,” said Ronald McDonald House Westmead CEO Belinda Woolford.
“We love the boys coming down at Christmas and this year has been extra special. They have brought presents for the kids, which have come courtesy of the community which makes it even more special.”
“Its been extremely tough, obviously through COVID-19, we have had to continue and we have been open, supporting our families which has already been a difficult time, but even more difficult when you have a seriously ill child.”
The Eels and Ronald McDonald House, Westmead is one of the longest running partnerships in Australian sport, spanning over 27 years and the Eels are proud of our relationship with the House and being able to give back to the community.
“It’s a really special relationship for the Club. It’s one of the longest serving in Australian sport, this year we are celebrating 27 years of partnership which we are incredibly proud of,” Sarantinos said.
“It’s great to be here at Christmas time in particular, and be able to give back to the families and allow the boys to spend some time with some people that are less fortunate than we are.”
“It’s been really difficult the last 12 months. We haven’t been able to connect with the community in the way that we would have liked, but it’s really fortunate that we can spend some time here just before Christmas and really try and put a smile on everyone’s face.”