PHOENIX — The Phoenix-based Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central and Northern Arizona recently raised $573,820 through its inaugural “Hearts & Hands Celebration” virtual fashion fundraiser.

“This year brought a lot of challenges,” Kerry Schulman, chief executive officer of the organization, said in a press release. “But the challenges faced by the families we serve are much greater. The Hearts & Hands Celebration brought an opportunity to come together and support these families while also celebrating those who got us through these difficult months — our dedicated community champions.”

Co-hosted by Susan Casper of ABC15 Arizona, the 30-minute affair held on Saturday included tributes to the organization’s founders, medical community and local McDonald’s owner/operators. Participants who joined from home received a signature dish and cocktail prepared by Café ZuZu of the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale.

The organization proves a “home-away-from-home” for families, at no cost to them, even during the pandemic. The cost of housing a family for one night costs the organization about $107. Money raised through the fundraiser will provide more than 5,000 nights for families.

The organization provides temporary housing at three Valley locations, including in central Phoenix near St. Joseph’s Hospital and Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix, on the campus of Phoenix Children’s Hospital and on the campus of Banner Children’s at Desert in Mesa. In total, there are 78 rooms available to serve families on any given night. Last year, over 1,454 families utilized the service, totaling 22,379 nights of rest.

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