CHICAGO (CBS) — In the most troubling of times for families of sick children, the Ronald McDonald House is there to put a roof over their head.

Today, they held their first holiday party in the new Streeterville location.

The third floor of 211 East Grand Avenue boasts a large gathering room, where a special party is taking place. Two elves dance around, as young, smiling eyes look on.

“Every time I come to days like today where we are having a holiday party and former families come back to see us and to see Santa, I’m moved by the impact we have had on their lives,” said Mary Agnes Laguatan, vice president of operations for Ronald McDonald House charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.

Laguatan says they expected increased demand when they went from a 22-room facility in Lincoln Park to the 66-room high-rise in Streeterville, but it was quick.

“By mid-July, we had completely filled the house with 66 families, which is a blessing and kind of a challenge,” said Laguatan.

Summer tends to be a busy time of year, and since then, Laguatan says they remain at 85 percent capacity.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michelle Fiore Reports

Which has brought some changes. Now instead of using paper, pencil and a flow-chart to schedule rooms, they’re using a computer and hotel-software.

Laguatan says about 50 percent of families using the facility are from Illinois. The rest comes from all over the world.

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