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Leadership Day 2013 at Ronald McDonald House and Charleston Parks Conservancy

By Cadet Rico Gabriel, Sophomore, India Company

We started the day by going to the Ronald McDonald House. It was pretty cool because we found out they help children who are in a hospital and assist their families too. This was the first time I had ever heard of them but they really do a lot of work and I wish they would get more credit for it.

Our team of cadets from The Citadel helped them reorganize their house a bit. We moved a lot of stuff which may not seem hard until we saw just how much stuff they had. We were happy to do it, though, simply because it included many nice things that they provide at no cost to families with sick children. We worked nonstop moving boxes in and out of the crawlspace under the building.

An added benefit for families staying at the house, and, for us that day, was that one of their corporate sponsors is Coca Cola so they get a lot of soda for free. So whenever someone wants a drink they only have to pay a quarter. But one of the highlights of the day for us was the big red shoes – they have so many of them. They are just like the ones worn by Ronald McDonald, the mascot. Whenever a celebrity stops by, the famous person will wear the shoes to bring attention to the Ronald McDonald House so more people will become aware of them and help them out. It was amazing to learn about this organization and to know that it does so much for so many people.

When we finished helping the team at the Ronald McDonald house we traveled to the Charleston Parks Conservancy. We were expecting an actual park with a playground. Instead, we drove out to what was essentially an open field. There were a few trees on the side, a fence running around the perimeter, and one big shed off to the side. We were all wondering what we were all doing out there and if we’re even in the right spot. Soon, we did not care because we saw a table full of chocolate, fruits, cupcakes, candy, and soda. So being cadets, we ate everything.

During the eating and drinking we were informed that we would be building boxes to keep plants in and we would take down the vines growing all over the fence. The big open area is actually going to turn into a park in the near future and the boxes we were building were for “community gardens”, which are places people from around the community can pay to own, maintain at the site, and grow whatever they wish.

We ended up making eight boxes which were actually really big and so now they have a total of forty boxes. Making the boxes was the easy part. Being outside was great. But taking down the vines from the fence was a bit challenging. The challenging part about taking down the vines was the giant thorns hidden within the vines. I’m pretty sure at some point everyone grabbed down on a handful of thorns.

Leadership Day was a success, and thinking about it now, all the work was well worth it knowing we helped make the future park look nice and that we were helping making space for plants to grow. Everyone from the Ronald McDonald House and the Charleston Park Conservancy treated us very well and express their gratitude for our help. Both groups said it would’ve taken them days to do the work we did in the few short hours we got to spend with them. I think every cadet would agree that we did make a difference on Leadership Day, 2013, in our community.

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