Rounding Up with a Big Impact

Persistence Is Key for McDonald’s Crew Member

The request is simple and the immediate return may be modest, but the reward is proving to be extraordinary.

“Would you like to round up for the Ronald McDonald House?” asks Jeff Nichelson. It’s an unassuming question, as humble and earnest as the man behind the counter posing it. But there’s a resolve behind the friendly smile as he waits, and either way you answer, he’ll say the same thing: “Thank you very much and have a good day.”

His good nature and persistence is paying off. The Windermere Parkway McDonald’s in Cumming, Georgia, where Jeff works, is leading other stores in metro Atlanta for money raised in the Round Up for Ronald McDonald House Charities program. From late August to the end of 2019, Jeff’s efforts resulted in $3,567.88 in proceeds.

That’s just from asking every customer every time, “Would you like to round up for the Ronald McDonald House?”

Jeff says it’s easy when he imagines what it would be like for kids or their parents facing a health crisis. Though he’s never visited the House, he’s heard stories of how it’s helped people—sometimes the very ones who tell him they’d like to round up.

Jeff's Round UP notes

“It touches me and just warms my heart to think about everything the House helps families with,” he says. “As long as McDonald’s does it, I’m going to help.”

Jeff, or “Mr. Jeff” as his nametag reads and his regulars know him, is a 12-year employee at the Windermere Parkway restaurant. It’s amusing now, but both his general manager and supervisor say they worried something was wrong with the system when they first saw how out of sync their numbers were in relation to other stores.

“We thought something must be off,” says General Manager Richard Lee Mook. “Then we realized that the amounts were different on the days Jeff was working compared to those he was off. Jeff was the answer.”

Wayne Highfield, the store’s supervisor, says it was Jeff who took on ushering in Round-Up after years of asking for donations for its predecessor, Give a Hand.

“He’s built relationships with our customers over the years. He sees the same people daily and they know him,” Highfield says. “This is natural for him.”

Jeff’s not only dedicated to asking each customer during his eight-hour shift, but also recording favorable responses. He keeps meticulous records of each positive transaction. Forty cents, 86 cents, 53 cents, 22 cents—handwritten digits jam his notebook’s pages—and at the end of the day he adds them all up. While most days hover around $50 in proceeds, some days stand out.

“This was a very good day,” he smiles as he points out a shift that ended with just over $99.

In fact, he’s outraising his 2019 daily pace by about two-thirds. At this rate he’s on track to raise more than $11,000 by the end of the year.

“It’s just something I love doing,” Jeff says. “And I hope I’m around for a long time so I can keep doing it.”