By Frances Wang

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One of the more than 950 charities hoping to benefit from Give Miami Day is the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida.

The local nonprofit near Jackson Memorial Hospital provides homes for families of critically-ill children being treated nearby.

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One of the families current living there is the Encarnacion family after 6-year-old twins Dominic and Dimitri were seriously injured in an accident.

The Encarnacions are from St. Croix in the Virgin Islands but have been in South Florida for months now.

Earlier this year in July, the boys and their stepfather were walking to their car after leaving the bakery.

“It was a routine Sunday morning,” said Ashley Julien, the boys’ mother. “To get bread something we usually do.”

Julien said the boys were hit by a car turning down the road and instantly injured. At one point, they were even pinned to the wall, recalled Julien.

After a surgery on the island, the boys had to be airlifted to South Florida where they were first treated at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for a month and then Holtz Children’s Hospital until September. They’re now completing their rehab at Jackson Memorial Hospital, while staying at the Ronald McDonald House.

“It’s a wonderful place,” said Julien. “A place to call home away from home, the ability to just destress, have a moment to be human again.”

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While Julien is grateful for all the care the boys received while in various hospitals, being in hospitals takes a toll.

“It gets to you after a while day in and day out. It’ll get to anyone, especially a parent, where something like this completely happens out of the blue,” said Julien.

Like many nonprofits, Ronald McDonald was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had to cancel all of our fundraising events, which will keep our doors open,” said Executive Director Soraya Rivera-Moya, who added donations were extremely helpful.

The charity provides rooms, food, basic necessities for families like the Encarnacions.

“If the house didn’t exist, I’m not sure what would’ve happened, said Julien.

Julien isn’t sure when her family will get to go back home, but she knows she has a home until then.

“It’s put a lot of fear in my heart, because I love home. I love it so much,” said Julien. “But it’s still a pretty sore spot in my heart.”

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In a continuing effort to help close the fundraising gap, local McDonald’s restaurants are giving customers an option to donate in drive thrus. Customers can round up their order or make a donation.

Frances Wang