Edinburgh McDonald's donate toys and Happy Meals boxes to mum worried about coronavirus impact on her autistic sons

Donna Ganson was worried she would be set for weeks of problems due to her sons’ routine being disrupted by COVID-19.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 9:53 am

An Edinburgh mum was the recipient of hundreds of Happy Meal boxes and toys as part of a generous gesture by a McDonald’s store in the Capital.

Read More

Read More
'Big four' Edinburgh Fringe venues refuse to give up on staging shows this year

Donna Ganson, who has two sons on the autism spectrum was at her wits end about having to ruin her carefully choreographed routine, held so dear by Luke, 5, and Jake, 4.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Donna Ganson and her two sons Luke, 5, and Jake, 4.

She told the Evening News that both of her children were used to their weekly McDonald’s meal that she collected from the drive-through at the Corstorphine restaurant.

Donna said: “I got told that McDonald’s were closing and as you can imagine my heart sank because me two boys are on the autism spectrum.

“My eldest, Luke, if he starts asking for something he won’t stop asking until he gets it and I had visions of requests for days.

“I spoke to a lovely man called Michael at the restaurant, and I asked if I could come in and buy some of the packaging for the Happy Meals and chicken nuggets and he said of course.

Donna Ganson was given tonnes of McDonald's boxes to help her boys keep a routine (both autistic) through the coronavirus crisis.

“When I arrived I mentioned to staff I was due to meet Michael and the man I spoke to asked me how much I would need.

“He then came out with hundreds of boxes and toys, which I hadn’t asked for, he had just added in, and I was almost in tears when they gave me the boxes.

“He wouldn’t accept any money for it and he said to me that his friend’s son has autism and that he understood.”

The boys are now having McDonald’s every week at home, only now it is Donna putting together the burgers, chips and chicken nuggets and coming through the kitchen door rather than the front door.

The McDonalds in Corstorphine

For Donna, the most difficult part is putting together the boxes, a task she says is much harder than you would imagine.

She said: “It is just about keeping routine with them as everything is upside down so it is just one less thing to have to deal with.

“We always go through the drive-through but all that is different for the boys now is that Mum is coming through from the kitchen.

“I am doing the fries in the air fryer and am using Iceland's chicken nuggets which taste just like McDonald’s.

“The virus has meant a big change for the boys but it is keeping as much routine as possible. We are lucky we have a garden and they can get out but they are adjusting well.

"I think they are quite happy to be out of school and nursery.”

An Edinburgh City Council spokesperson said: “What a great gesture from the local McDonald’s manager to help the family out in this way! It’s another tale of the great community spirit we are seeing here in Edinburgh every day with people rallying round to support each other in these unprecedented times.

“Routine is so important for autistic children and I’m sure Luke and Jake are really grateful that he can still get his favourite meals.”

Elliot Jardine, the McDonald’s franchisee said: “The local communities that we serve are incredibly important to us, and having made the difficult decision to close our restaurants, we are still supporting families and charities across the UK and Ireland.

“We’re so pleased that our donated Happy Meal boxes, packaging and toys can be put to good use and bring some comfort to our customers during this challenging time.”

An official spokesperson for the company added: “The local communities that we serve are incredibly important to us, and having made the difficult decision to close our restaurants, we are still supporting families and charities across the UK and Ireland. We’re so pleased that our donated Happy Meal boxes, packaging and toys can be put to good use and bring some comfort to our customers during this challenging time.”