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Cindy Hodnett

Rooms To Go buyer Holly Ranney brightens kids' lives

 A real propeller is part of the new décor for Mathew Majka’s bedroom. He received a room makeover from Sunshine on a Ranney Day, a charity that redecorates rooms for children with chronic or long-term illnesses.A real propeller is part of the new décor for Mathew Majka’s bedroom. He received a room makeover from Sunshine on a Ranney Day, a charity that redecorates rooms for children with chronic or long-term illnesses.

HIGH POINT — As Holly Ranney makes her way to High Point Market showrooms, she wears her buyer's hat for Rooms To Go. But when she's not scouting the latest products for kids and teens, Ranney embraces another youth-centric role as president for Sunshine on a Ranney Day.

Founded earlier this year, Sunshine on a Ranney Day is a 501(c)3 charity that does dream room makeovers for children with chronic or long-term illnesses.

Although still in its infancy, the organization has already made a big impact in the lives of several families in the Atlanta area. Ranney said she hopes to use her connections in the furniture industry to expand the charity's reach.

"Rooms To Go has been very supportive and really helped me get started," Ranney said. "Now I'm getting emails almost every day from people asking what they can do to help. I would like to help at least one family a month and doing that really depends on getting companies involved and raising money."

Ranney's first makeover project was for Mathew Majka, an 11-year-old boy diagnosed with a brain tumor in April 2011. Mathew's dad, Michael, is a single parent to Mathew and his four-year-old sister, Lillian, who is deaf.

"Mathew is a big fan of all things military, so I wanted to design his room with a military theme," Ranney said. "The family lives near Warner Robins Air Force Base, so we contacted the base for help as well.

"Part of what we try to do with the makeovers is also include a special experience for the child on the day we're doing the work, and Warner Robins was incredible. They gave Mathew his own uniform, and took him out in an F-15 on the day we were working. One of their pilots flew him to Atlanta for lunch, and when we brought Mathew home to see his new room, a group of probably 25 Air Force personnel came and formed a line for him to walk through. It was pretty amazing to watch his reaction," she said.

The Facebook page for Sunshine on a Ranney Day has photo albums documenting the room reveal and Mathew's meeting with Warner Robins personnel. On the website, Ranney tells about upcoming projects, including one for a 70-year-old adoptive mother of four special-needs children and one for Gavin, a four-year-old with mitochondrial disease.

"Miss Glass raised four children of her own and then adopted and fostered four more children with special needs - Ray, Charlie, Harrison and Faith," Ranney said. "Ray is 12, plays drums and trumpet and loves Michael Jackson, so we're going to do a Michael Jackson studio theme for his room. Charlie is 11 and loves SpongeBob, so we're making a six-foot SpongeBob for his wall. Charlie's family gave him up, and Miss Glass got him when he was three months old. He wasn't expected to live more than a couple of months, but he is just celebrated his birthday and is on no medications! Harrison is six and loves cars, so he's getting a beach-buggy bed."

Ranney said Faith is a 15-year-old girl who is wheelchair bound and unable to speak. Ranney is creating a brightly colored room with "some bling" for the teenager and is designing the space to accommodate nurses and medical paraphernalia. Medical considerations are also driving part of the makeover process for Gavin.

"Gavin woke up one day and couldn't walk," Ranney said. "The family didn't have health insurance, and they've struggled financially. So we're going to do a makeover that will help them with everyday needs."

Gavin's condition makes him unable to sleep in a regular bed, so Ranney is having a bed made that will allow him to stay in his own room instead of sleeping with his parents. Additionally, there are plans to finish the family's basement to include an at-home therapy space for Gavin.

"It will cost between $10,000 and $15,000 for the basement," Ranney said. "So we created a registry on our website where people can choose different aspects of the project to sponsor."

Although the makeover plate is full of projects, Ranney is looking forward to expanding the charity to new areas, adding that she is part of an industry that can make it happen.

"I've been in the furniture industry since college, and it's a small industry when you think about it," Ranney said.

"When I started this project, I knew I would have a lot of support because I'm surrounded by a lot of very good people.

"I love my job with Rooms To Go and don't want to leave it, so eventually, I hope to hire someone to take over the business side of things since my passion is design," she said.

"It's already been such a positive experience overall; you really see the good in people. When you see these kids and think about what they are going through, you just don't worry about stupid things anymore."

For more information, go to www.sunshineonaranneyday.com or like the organization on Facebook.

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