ST. GEORGE – Good news came in the form of a 12-passenger van given to foster parents Ryan and Tiffany McDonald of St. George Friday, who until now have had to use several cars simultaneously to meet the transportation needs of their family.
The McDonalds have been fostering children in their home for over 10 years. Currently, they have 11 children, eight who still live at home. Two of their children currently are foster children, and the rest are either biological or have been adopted by the McDonalds as their own through the Foster Care Foundation.
“It took four cars just to get over here,” Tiffany McDonald said.
“We love all these people coming together and want to honor a great couple and great family. We honor and celebrate the good people you are and what you do,” Stephen W. Wade Family Foundation Executive Director Monty Magleby said to the McDonalds as the van was presented to them.
“And so, in behalf of SwitchPoint, Wade Family Foundation, Todd Stirling and his family, Scott Smith and a lot of people that volunteered their time to prepare, clean, fix and such,” Magleby said, “we would like to present you with this van. We hope it will be a great blessing to your family.”
Ryan McDonald’s job requires that he be away from home a lot, Tiffany McDonald said, so the van is the answer to her prayers when he is absent.
She swore as a teen that she would never own a van, Tiffany McDonald said, it wasn’t a “cool car.” But her viewpoint has changed.
Recently, Tiffany McDonald has been spotted taking selfies in front of random vans because that is all she has been dreaming about, her brother-in-law Andrew Smart said.
She wanted everyone to know how much she desired such a vehicle for her family, Tiffany McDonald said. Now she can stop with the selfies and enjoy her day-to-day family life in their new van.
How the gift came to be
Switchpoint Community Resource Center, along with the Stephen W. Wade Family Foundation, physician assistant Scott Smith, Todd Stirling, Jessica Smart and Karen Brennan have been planning the surprise for weeks.
Tiffany McDonald’s sister Jessica Smart asked for assistance from family friend Scott Smith, who contacted Tyler Wade, president of the Wade Family Foundation, about finding a van for the McDonalds.
Among its charity efforts, the Wade Family Foundation gives cars away to families and people in need. In five years, Wade estimated the Wade Family Foundation has donated 25 or more cars.
Wade agreed to help the McDonalds and began looking for a van. During the search, Stirling unexpectedly stepped forward with a 2002 Chevy Express 12-passenger van that he wanted to donate to the foundation. The van was perfect for the McDonalds.
After spending time getting the van into driving condition, the date was set for the surprise. Friday at 3 p.m., family and friends gathered in the parking lot of Switchpoint, 948 N. 1300 West in St. George, to present the McDonalds with the van.
“Well it took a lot in getting her here without her knowing about it,” Jessica Smart said. “You wouldn’t know what we went through. I don’t think we have ever pulled off a surprise for this girl in her life. She planned her own surprise party.”
Spreading the love the McDonalds way
Being a foster parent is only one of the many worthy things they do. The McDonalds serve their community by being mentors to many children, not just the children in their home. They have a desire to serve and spread love, they said.
With this van, the McDonalds will be able to focus more on family and a nonprofit foundation, Munchkins and Miracles or Foster Love 4 Kids, they are organizing. The main focus of the McDonalds’ foundation is foster children, teens who have slipped through the cracks and families in crisis.
Some of the activities Munchkins or Foster Love will undertake include service projects, raising money for specific families or people in need, skill building, a teen goal-setting and rewards program, emotional release and holistic healing, motivational fitness and wellness camp, dance camp, theater and music camp, college funding and grants, a wishing dream pot for specific deserving families and a recording studio for singer-song writers to enhance their talents and dreams.
“The goal is to build and fortify a better community by helping individual children meet their needs, learn passion and talents and understand their purpose in life,” Tiffany McDonald said.
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