- Associated Press - Monday, September 26, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - For families of ill children, a night or two or even more at the Ronald McDonald House is one way to help focus on their ailing kids without having to shoulder the burden of hotel costs. It’s a lesson that the gang in Riverdale _ including Archie, Veronica, Jughead and others _ will learn firsthand this week.

The national network of homes, which provides free or inexpensive lodging for families near hospitals, is making an appearance in the issue of “Archie Comics” being released Wednesday.

In the 70th anniversary issue, No. 625, the kids at Riverdale High School find out that the younger sister of one of their fellow students is seriously ill with cancer and has to spend time in the hospital. The gang chips in to help to get the family to the Ronald McDonald House New York.

That realization sparks an epiphany for Archie and the others who, in turn, visit the house in New York City and volunteer their time and service, playing musical instruments, talking to kids and families and helping make things easier for those who are living there.

“Just because we’ve been, in a certain sense, a little insulated from the events of the real world, when we venture out or support or get behind something, it’s like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,” said Jon Goldwater, co-chief executive of Archie Comics. “That makes things good for that person or that cause.”

Dealing with cancer, and the help that Ronald McDonald House provides, fits that meter, he said.

The company’s writers and artists ventured to the New York City house to meet not the children, their families who stay there and the staff. They painted the stairwells with a mural of Archie characters and a massive picture of the Riverdale gang, which now hangs in the house’s playroom.

From there, Goldwater said the decision was made to focus on the house, not just in New York, but nationally.

Goldwater said Archie is “giving 100 percent of the profits” from the issue to the New York Ronald McDonald House, too.

That struck a chord with William T. Sullivan, president and CEO of the Ronald McDonald House New York.

He said that by having Shrill’s sister come and stay at the actual house, “it kind of makes it all the more real” and gets the word out about the house to people who may not otherwise be aware.

For Dan Parent, who drew the issue, it’s an achievement.

“Working on this issue was special on a number of levels _ the Ronald McDonald House is a very important charity and Archie has always been a huge supporter, so it was an honor to bring that relationship to life,” he said. “Plus, it’s Archie’s 70th Anniversary Issue. It doesn’t get cooler than that.”

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Follow Matt Moore at http://twitter.com/MattMooreAP

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