As a buyer for Rooms To Go Kids, with many connections in the furniture industry, Holly Ranney wanted to give something back in the best way she could. So last spring, she started Sunshine on a Ranney Day – a non-profit organization based in Roswell that gives dream room makeovers to kids with long-term illness.
“I felt that these children – it was beyond their control,” Ranney told Patch. “They can’t go to school on a daily basis and have a normal childhood.”
In July, the group gave its first makeover to Mathew Majka, an 11-year-old boy who is fighting a brain tumor. A group of 18 volunteers – nine of them from Roswell - went to Mathew’s home in Bonaire, Ga.
Because Mathew wants to go into the military one day, they chose a military theme for his room – complete with camouflage walls and even a plane propeller on the wall. The 561st AMXS at Warner Robins Air Force Base helped out, giving gifts to Mathew, along with a tour of the base and pitching in with the renovations. A local pilot also took Mathew on a flight to Atlanta and back.
Ranney’s pastor at Northside Baptist Church in Roswell, Jason Barber, brought his wife and three children to help out. While volunteers went to work on the bedroom, Barber and his 9-year-old son took Mathew to the base for the tour and then returned to help with renovations. His wife, Casey, and their two daughters pitched in to decorate Mathew’s room.
“It was fantastic,” Barber said. “We had a great time, number one, serving together. To do something like this together was phenomenal. It was good for my son to say, today is Mathew’s day.”
Barber said Ranney talked with him when first starting the project, and he immediately wanted to volunteer.
“It was a no brainer for us,” Barber said. “We want to instill these values in our kids. What we have – our resources, our time, our treasures – we’ve been entrusted with that. We want to make sure we’re sharing that.”
For their next project, Sunshine is working with Childkind to provide makeovers for two children with developmental disabilities, Ranney said.
Beyond the makeovers, though, part of the group’s mission is to pair kids up with a sponsor who stays in touch at least once a month, so the attention doesn’t die down. Beforehand, volunteers interview each child to find out his or her interests. And afterward, the kids get a video and photo album of the day, so they have something to look back on.
Ranney has become Mathew's sponsor and had lunch with him a few weeks ago when he was in Atlanta for treatment. Mathew was asking when the volunteers were coming to visit him again, Ranney recalled.
“He was so excited and wore his flight suit to a school dance. It’s not just doing a makeover for a day,” Ranney said.
Ranney said while the group helps people within a couple hours of Atlanta, she would really like to find a family in Roswell or Alpharetta.
And what does she hope to achieve?
“The overall experience of the entire day,” Ranney said. “Everybody’s in positive spirits and everybody wants to help. And it brings out the good in everybody.”
To volunteer or donate to Sunshine on a Ranney Day, go to their website.