Baking cookies is a simple thing — except when you are living away from home because your child is being treated at a hospital in a city far away.

The inspiration for the RMHC Cookie comes from the kitchens of every Ronald McDonald House across Canada, including at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto.

Kris Trafford from Melancthon, Ont. is one of those inspirations.

Kris is the mom of 14-month-old Brody. Since January, the family has spent a total of 129 days at RMHC Toronto while Brody receives treatment for a life-threatening intestinal disorder.

During the days, Kris would spend all day by Brody’s crib. But at night, she would walk the few blocks from the hospital to RMHC Toronto to find a comfortable bed, get a good meal and be surrounded by a reassuring feeling of home.

But as tired as Kris was in the evenings, she found she craved time in the kitchen, just like at home.

“At home, I grew up baking cookies with my mom and it’s always been a great stress relief for me. The House gave me a place to relax and calm down and when I was there, I baked cookies.”

And we all know that when you bake cookies, you don’t bake just one.

When she first started baking at RMHC Toronto, she would leave a few dozen cookies out for other families to eat or take to the hospital the next day, but in no time at all, Kris found that groups of people would come to the kitchen to hang out together, drink coffee or milk and eat cookies. Eventually her cookies became so popular it became a program at the House called “Kris’ Kookies”.

“It was just what I needed,” she says. “I think a lot of us sometimes just want to hide in our room but if there’s a cookie smell downstairs you get drawn out of your room and you can let go of that stress for a bit. We’re all tired. So if you can just have that moment, have some sugar, smile… It just makes life a little bit more bearable.”

Vivian Riehl and Shelley Bowden are also inspirations for the RMHC Cookie. Every Tuesday morning for more than four years, the two volunteers – close friends for more than 30 years – have made it a tradition to come to the House to bake fresh cookies for our families. They estimate they have baked more than 25,000 cookies for families in that time.

“We do it because we love to bake. But more importantly, it’s because baking brings memories of home, love and warmth.

“Children point excitedly at the cookies and parents stop by to chat and reminisce or simply take a few as they rush to appointments or to hospital visits. There are never enough!” they say.

We think Kris, Vivian and Shelley would all agreed: Baking is cookie therapy.