Ronald McDonald House Charity benefitting Essentia NICU families

By KBJR News 1

June 19, 2014 Updated Jun 19, 2014 at 6:57 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)--- Eating McDonald's is not always a bad thing...

"When anybody gives a nickel, a dime, a penny, whatever they put in that box, it really makes a difference," says Jim Kehoe, President of the Northeast Minnesota McDonald's Co-Op .

Especially when 180-thousand dollars is raised through the regional McDonalds and the Ronald McDonald House to benefit families at Essentia Health St Mary's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

"They're pretty strong, from what we have heard. They were 25 weeks when they were born," said new mom, Danielle Hoel.

Earlier this month Danielle and Grant Hoel welcomed twin girls. Eden and Hope were born on June 8, fourteen weeks early. The NIC-U will be their home- away- from home for the preemies for the next three months.

"We come up here every day. We're here for about 7 or 8 hours," said Danielle.

The opening of a new Ronald McDonald Family Lounge will help families like the Hoel's de-stress close to their sick kids.

"This gives an area where families can take a break, socialize with their own families, possibly meet other NIC-U families and just have a chance to relieve some stress and get away when they need to," said Dr. Lee Muskoveitz, Medical Director of Neonatology.

The room creates a sense of normalcy with laundry, showers, a kitchen, and a lounge.

"It's really nice that they've thought about the parents, and how the parents- it can be a really stressful time- it is a really stressful time no matter what," said new dad, Grant Hoel.

"If I wouldn't have been in this situation, I wouldn't have even thought about all of these different options and how necessary they are for families that are here," said Danielle Hoel.

The NIC-U might not be the ideal place to be, but the Hoel's are embracing the time they get with their new baby girls.

"Now we get to touch them a little bit and bond with them and read to them and talk to them or whatever, yeah they really are beautiful," said Grant Hoel.

Essentia Health-St. Mary's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit held a celebration Wednesday night to show off the new family room and thank the donors.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati