PITTSBURG — The Ronald McDonald House of the Four States is close to one Pittsburg State University student’s heart.

Six years ago Frank Chapman’s son, William, was born four months premature. Chapman and his wife Kelly stayed at the Ronald McDonald House while their son grew into a strong, healthy baby.

William’s sisters Carollyn and Andrea were so excited for William to come home, he said, that they made special welcome home celebration for him with their grandparents.

“It really meant a lot to us to stay at RMH because we simply couldn't afford to stay in a hotel for four months or to drive six hours per day every day,” Chapman said. “The day we brought him home was a very happy and scary day.

“We were overwhelmed with joy that he was finally out of the hospital and we could all come home together. We were also very nervous, for he had lived in a protected bubble for the first four months of his life … RMH provided us not only a safe place to stay, but also encouragement and support to get through the daily ups and downs.”

William is doing really well and is in kindergarten, his father said.

Chapman is a social work student and he is working to raise funds and donations for RMH as a student at PSU.

“Now I’m in position I can give back,” he said.

Being close to his son was one of the best things about the Ronald McDonald House, Chapman said. The organization has provided a place for over 2,000 families to stay within minutes of the hospital for a “much-reduced rate,” Chapman said.

He said the environment felt like home, with the usual necessities and toys toys for other children. Sharing stories with other families at the house gave Chapman and his wife someone to talk to.

“People can talk to other families going through similar circumstances, which helps families get through rough times,” he said.

Chapman said there are several items which are important to keep in stock to keep the house running — these include paper towels, 13 gallon white drawstring trash bags, tumblers, package snacks and children’s board games. He said he hopes to collect 500 items.

People can sponsor families for $10, which provide one night’s stay to the family and helps families which cannot afford $10 a night, Chapman said. To sponsor a family, people can visit the Ronald McDonald of the Four States’ website at rmhjoplin.org/donate/

Chapman has reached out to the community he resides, Parsons, for places to drop off items for the Ronald McDonald House. These include Great Southern Bank, Parsons Dental Care, Ace Hardware, Community National Bank in Parsons, Bleacher Gear, Nichols Trading Post, Dwayne’s Photo, Parsons State Hospital Administration Building and the Wesley United Methodist Church in Parsons.

For people who do not frequent Parsons can drop off items at Community National Bank in Pittsburg.

For more information Chapman said people can contact him through his Facebook Page ‘Stock the House’ or email him at fchapman@gus.pittstate.edu.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on twitter @pittstephpotter.