I have seen commercials recently, marketed specifically at children, encouraging them to purchase McDonald's Happy Meals because, if they do, a portion of the price will be donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Now work with me here, please.
I don't care that McDonald's offers Happy Meals. I don't care that they offer toy incentives to purchase one. This is not an issue with me. What I do take offense to is playing on the emotions of kids, trying to convince them to ask mom or dad to buy them a crap meal in order to "help" other kids. Do you see my problem with this?
I have heard nothing but good things about the Ronald McDonald Houses. I personally feel that any organization that helps kids and their families during a very trying time is right on track and should be applauded for their efforts. However, McDonald's is not good food. It is not food that any child should be subjected to. It has no redeeming factor whatsoever and to pretend otherwise is just plain wrong. To make a child feel that he is doing something worthy by purchasing a Happy Meal takes away some of the good that the charity does. It tarnishes its own image. The message could easily be interpreted as "Rot yourself stupid, it's all for a worthy cause." As parents, we know what we should be eating. Occasionally, we fall off the wagon and go on a craptastic binge. But then we (hopefully) dust ourselves off the following morning and return to a sensible way of eating. We also know what we should be feeding our kids. And it should not be McDonald's. Yes, I know, it's often simply a treat, a reward for being good at the dentist or for passing math. But the specific notion that only good can come of purchasing a Happy Meal? That is shameful. And McDonald's should know better.
There are other ways to support the Ronald McDonald houses. Volunteer. Deposit spare change in the boxes at the drive-thru or next to the register. Write a check. Let's not buy into the "eat crap, help a kid" message. We're all better than that.