The Ronald McDonald House is a nonprofit organization that depends upon community support for its programs. Families of hospitalized children that stay there pay $10 a night, but the actual cost is more like $35, "so we go to the community to help us make up the difference, in what we call our Share-A-Night Program," says Rebecca Vom Dorp, director of events and volunteer coordinator at Ronald McDonald.

This year one of the major Share-A-Night events will be a Mardi Gras Ball, held at the Doubletree Hotel, Saturday, March 28. The gala will feature zydeco music, creole cuisine and an extensive list of donated merchandise and services to be auctioned off, including a week vacation to the Great Barrier Reef. The 30 Ronald McDonald board members have each assembled a goody basket that will also be auctioned off. "We're hoping to raise $100,000," says Vom Dorp.But donations of both time and service are welcome all year long, she says. "We have a wish list of goods that we particularly need." Such things as sheets and dishwasher detergent and towels and batteries. "We always need paper products - it's amazing how many of those we go through." They also welcome groups who want to provide a home-cooked meal or who want to provide an evening of entertainment. And they are always looking for volunteers to come in for three-hour shifts once a week to help out wherever needed.

For more information, contact the Ronald McDonald House at 363-HOME.