How a Small Business Learned from Families Staying at a Ronald McDonald House and Improved Product Along the Way

Lion Cub’s Cookies started out by donating experimental products to the House and is now donating 20% of revenue from first Wednesday sales to RMHC.

By Rick Shepherd, former Family Services Manager, and current Communications Manager, RMHC of Central Ohio

We’re getting into a special time of year for the Ronald McDonald House. Autumn means the start of the giving season, when our community really shows the love for fellow humans that they may never meet…the families needing to stay with us. Not just families that have to be here during the holidays, but for families that stay with us throughout the year. It’s a time when we’re thankful for our own families and good health. So, it seems like no coincidence that one little Columbus company that makes big cookies would have started in a family kitchen as Bradley Kaplan’s contribution to his family’s thanksgiving dinner. His cookies got rave reviews from his family and that’s when Bradley, (who says his dad would call him a lion cub), tells us he decided he was going to be a cookie baker.

I remember meeting this young man with a big dream for making big cookies when I was working second shift at the House front desk as a family services manager. He was just starting to learn the process of mass-producing cookies at The Food Fort, a shared space near to the House that has commercial kitchens, ovens, freezers, and refrigerators where future food service entrepreneurs like him could hone their skills. He would come in to donate big boxes of cookies for our families, arriving just after dark and just before we would stop accepting in-kind drop-off donations for the day. (He still has the same car seen in the video below!) The families would get so excited trying out the latest batch of these mountainous cookies!

How wonderful to think about the fresh baked love he shared with our families as he was trying to perfect his product, and the love they returned to him by giving the House staff feedback on his latest creations, which we could then pass on to Bradley so he could use any loving criticism received to bake even more love into the next batch for even better products. He could say his hometown product was baked with the love from his family to start and finished with the love of feedback from families from all over the world.

It is often said that when you give of yourself – donating or volunteering – you get back so much more that may not necessarily be tangible, and now it’s been scientifically proven with more than 50 research studies showing those who give are much happier afterwards. It seems especially fulfilling when giving without expecting or getting anything in return. I can often see the donor’s unexpected results firsthand when they help here at our Ronald McDonald House Charities chapter. Not just with individuals, but with the owners and the employees of so many successful businesses that get directly involved with our chapter too. Whether it’s supporting fundraising events with donations of products and services or encouraging staff to volunteer by giving them paid time off to do so or even matching their team’s hours of volunteer time with a monetary donation.

As we roll into the season of thankfulness, Bradley says he has much to be thankful for in 2023, not the least of which includes his 30+ staff members at his current Grandview location, and the support he got from the community for the expansion of his business to include a new location in Worthington, Ohio. So, for this season of thanks and giving, he’s giving back to the House that helped him start it all. Over the next three months, Lion Cub’s Cookies will be donating 20% of sales on the first Wednesday of October, November and December to RMHC of Central Ohio, helping the House that kept those families close to their hospitalized kids that helped him, whether they knew it or not.