One volunteer is changing lives at the Ronald McDonald House—join her for the Virtual Red Shoe Run September 16-24

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Note: Photos featured in the article taken pre-COVID-19. The Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham is currently not allowing in-person volunteers, but you can still support their mission in many other ways.

Allyson Harris, RMHCA
Allyson Harris has been volunteering with the RMHCA for close to seven years. Her efforts help change lives. Photo via Jennifer Hallman Photography for Bham Now.

It’s no secret that nonprofits run on volunteers year-round and need support, especially during the pandemic. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama (RMHCA) in Birmingham is so grateful for all of their volunteers. They found a special one when Allyson Harris came into their life—see how her efforts elevate the nonprofit and how you can too through the Virtual Red Shoe Run September 16-24.

During COVID-19, RMHCA continues to support families

“I’m not sure what our journey’s outcome would have been without the Ronald McDonald House.” Photo courtesy of RMHCA.

Even though it seems like the pandemic is the only thing on top of everyone’s mind, other struggles and hardships continue to occur and are heightened by COVID-19. Hear how the staff at RMHCA gave Tyletha Lord and her family a saving grace when her son was born as a micro-preemie.

The House provided us so much comfort in our time of distress. My husband and I had a clean, safe place to lay our heads after a long day at the hospital.

Financial costs were greatly reduced because the House always had donated food in the refrigerator or there were hot meals available. Even at the height of a global pandemic, we felt safe at the Ronald McDonald House.”

Tyletha Lord

RMHCA couldn’t help families like Tyletha’s and many others without the support of their wonderful volunteers and support from the community, including Allyson.

Meet Allyson, an all-star volunteer

Allyson Harris
If you don’t find Allyson at the RMCHA you can catch her volunteering at various places in the Birmingham community. Photo via Jennifer Hallman Photography for Bham Now

Allyson has been volunteering with RMCHA for nearly seven years. Between family life and a full-time job, she continuously pours out support for the organization. In fact, all three of her cars sport the official RMHCA license plate.

No task too big or too small

Tote bags at RMDH
These tote bags are filled with basic essentials for families when they first move into the house. Photo via Jennifer Hallman Photography for Bham Now

A large community helps RMHCA reach their goals, but you probably don’t realize that even the “small” tasks are what keeps the wheels turning.

Pre-COVID-19, you might find Allyson addressing envelopes, or appointing someone else to do it as Allyson says her handwriting isn’t superb (I can relate). She was also seen in the kitchen preparing and serving food for the families. On Thanksgiving day, Allyson began prep at 9AM and went well into the afternoon.

Allyson donates even more of her time when she’s organizing and running parts of RMCHA’s big events like the 5K Red Shoe Run taking place September 16-24.

She does a little (or a lot) of everything

If Allyson can’t do the work herself, she uses her, literally, thousands of connections in the Birmingham community and beyond to find someone that can.

She’s been on the board for the BBVA Birmingham volunteer chapter for just under a decade. In those years Allyson brought her love for RMCHA to BBVA, which sparked a chain reaction.

“We’ve had employees also find a passion for the house and they keep giving back even when we don’t have ‘official’ BBVA events on our calendar. Because of partners like RMHCA, BBVA as a whole, is able to meet our yearly goals. 

Allyson Harris

The work volunteers do is immeasurable

A group of BBVA supporters at 2019’s Red Shoe Run. Photo courtesy of RMHCA

Why her efforts are SO important

You’re probably already familiar with RMCHA. In the smallest nutshell, the nonprofit provides resources, support and most of all a warm, inviting place to stay for families with sick children.

When you have a sick child, the very last thing on your mind should be where you’re going to rest your head at night or what’s on the table for dinner. Incredible staff and tireless volunteers ensure these families that the not-so-little things are taken care of.

Allyson’s dedication works like a pebble in a pond, producing a ripple effect

Allyson Harris at RMHCA
It only takes the impact of one to cause a chain reaction of good. Photo via Jennifer Hallman Photography for Bham Now

The effect of Allyson’s efforts makes even more of an impact than you could imagine one person would.

“Friends, family and co-workers see my social media posts or hear me talking about it and find themselves jumping in to help as well.

In turn, those individuals share the impact they make and see it grow with their own circle. It’s a butterfly effect that only brings back good things.”

Alllyson Harris

Volunteering at the RMCHA impacts Allyson’s personal life

Whether she’s recruiting volunteers at BBVA or bringing her husband and daughter along with her to cook a meal, Allyson’s volunteerism has roots in every part of her life.

While Allyson’s work reaches all members of the Birmingham community, from those she works with to friends, perhaps the person she’s inspired most is her 13-year-old daughter.

At only 13, Allyson’s daughter is already directing other volunteers, coming up with creative ideas and following in her mom’s footsteps in all the best ways.

How you can help right now

Inspired by Allyson? We are too, so I asked how we can support this amazing nonprofit. If you’re interested in learning more about how to help, shoot an email to Stephanie Duncan, the Community Outreach Manager.

Virtual Red Shoe Run: Rockin’ 5K

The absolute easiest way to give back right now is by signing up for the Virtual Red Shoe Run. Not only do you get the fulfillment of helping families with sick children, but you can also win awards and get a rockin’ t-shirt.

It doesn’t matter if you have 30 min or a weekend

There’s always something that can be done, and it doesn’t always require a large chunk of time or change.

  • Send around a quick email to your office asking everyone to collect pop tabs.
  • Drop the dog accounts—follow RMCHA on social media and share their posts instead.

You can keep families with sick children close by signing up for the virtual Red Shoe Run today. Find out more ways you can help by following RMHCA on Instagram and Facebook.

Sponsored by:

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama Volunteer Birmingham