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Lansing McDonald’s to host McJournal Night fundraiser to support local news

Local Feb. 29 event is twist on national McTeacher Night

Lansing, Ill (February 4, 2024) – Move over, McTeachers! Writers and other Journal supporters are taking to the McDonald’s counter and drive-thru to raise funds for the Lansing newspaper.

McJournal Night
Details for McJournal Night are on a flyer created by McDonald’s for the event. Click the image to download a printable PDF.

The first-ever McJournal Night will be held Feb. 29 from 4-7 p.m. at the Lansing McDonald’s on Torrence Avenue. Families and friends are invited to have a meal, meet Journal staff, spin a prize wheel, and support the Journal, all at one fun community event.

In addition, the popular McDonald’s mascot Grimace will be in attendance.

McJournal Night: the Journal

The idea for McJournal Night came to Journal publisher and founder Melanie Jongsma at the Lansing Christian School McTeacher Night in November, where she met McDonald’s franchise owner Jose Gutierrez for the first time.

“I thought, ‘What a great way of interacting with the community,’” Jongsma said. “McDonald’s already has the template — they know how to do [these events], so it seemed like a great partnership.”

Gutierrez isn’t aware of any other location that has done this twist on the national McTeacher Night program. But according to Gutierrez, the Leap Day event wasn’t a big leap. In fact, it makes perfect sense.

“When I think of journalism and newspapers, I think of educating the public,” Gutierrez said. “And when I think of teachers, I think of educating the youth. It’s a natural association.”

More than 20 volunteers, including staff writers and other Journal supporters, will be working at the event — staffing the drive-thru and the register, selling pies, and greeting customers. Jongsma is eager to spread the word about the Journal and celebrate the community that it covers.

“I love to interact with the public,” she said. “I want Journal people to come to McDonald’s, and I want McDonald’s people to become Lansing Journal subscribers.”

McJournal Night: the Night

The protocol for the Journal fundraiser is the same as for the Lansing school McTeacher Nights — McDonald’s donates 20% of all its profits and 100% of pie sales to the Journal during the three-hour event. There will also be a tip jar available at the register and window for donations.

One big highlight for the McJournal event is the appearance of Grimace. The purple McDonald’s character is one of the restaurant’s most popular, and a summer 2023 promotion featuring a berry-flavored “Grimace shake” kicked off an internet obsession with the large, fuzzy blob.

“Grimace is becoming an icon, and this is the first time he’s going to be at an area McDonald’s,” Gutierrez said. “It’s a huge get. He’s extremely popular, and everyone — especially children — will love to meet him.”

There’s also a prize wheel, featuring items from McDonald’s, their vendors, and The Lansing Journal.

“We have lots of fun stuff to give away,” Gutierrez said.

“We do too!” said Jongsma.

McJournal Night
The Lansing Journal will be giving away t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, and books on McJournal Night, February 29, 4-7 p.m. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Jose and Tina Gutierrez own the Lansing McDonald’s.

McJournal Night: the Mc(Donald’s)

Gutierrez owns the Lansing McDonald’s with his wife, Tina Gutierrez. It’s the latest acquisition of their five locations; the other four are in nearby Indiana communities. The family celebrated one year at the Lansing McDonald’s in December.

“We believe in giving back,” Gutierreez said. “We employ 400 people and provide more tuition assistance than most McDonald’s. Giving back is right for the business, but it’s also a joy being part of the communities that give us so much.”

From left: Lansing McDonald’s franchise owner Jose Gutierrez with members of his Lansing team — Lourdes, Beatrice, Edgar, Juanita, Lupita, Paty, and Matthew. (Photo: Ashlee De Wit)

In their first year here, the Gutierrez family has been impressed by the people of Lansing.

“We knew that Lansing was a nice community, but we were pleasantly surprised with the welcome and support that we’ve gotten,” Gutierrez said. “The schools, police and fire departments have all been participating in our events. I see people committed to the community here. We’re seeing growth here in Lansing from our competitors, and I welcome it. It gives people more options.”

At the November 2, 2023, McTeacher Night for Lansing Christian School, franchise owner Jose Gutierrez (right) posed with Sgt. Dana Tatgenhorst (left) from the Lansing Police Department and Matt Kamien, principal of Lansing Christian School (in pie costume). Gutierrez was impressed with how the Lansing community came out for the event. (Photo: Iliana Ramirez)

Recent development on Torrence Avenue has seen new chain restaurants moving in, including Starbucks and Taco Bell. Chick-fil-A may soon join that list as well.

These additions are a testament to the Lansing community, Gutierrez said.

The Journal staff, leadership, and other volunteers are hoping to see many community members at McDonalds on Feb. 29. “Maybe McJournal Night will be a new tradition for Leap Day!” Jongsma said.

“Most McDonald’s products have come from someone trying something new; this is how we start new traditions,” Gutierrez said. “But I hope we don’t have to wait four years for the next one!”

The Lansing McDonald’s is located at 17810 Torrence Ave. The Journal is available online at thelansingjournal.com.

McJournal Night at McDonald's.
The Lansing McDonald’s is located at 17810 Torrence Ave. McJournal Night is scheduled for Thursday, February 29, from 4-7 p.m. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
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Ashlee De Wit
Ashlee De Wit
Ashlee De Wit is a freelance writer and a Lansing native. After starting her career covering high school sports in Iowa, she's excited to be back in her hometown, reporting the stories of her local community — such as the opening of Troost, the informal Lansing pickleball club, a TF South Homecoming game, and Common Ground, Lansing's experiment with healthy race relations.


  1. Great idea for a fundraiser and a community event! So in order to count towards the fundraiser apple pies must be purchased in cash? Are other food/beverage orders applied if done through the app? Only during those hrs? Ty.

    • Thanks for the questions, Annmarie. I’m checking with our McDonald’s contact to make sure I give you the correct answers! I’ll post an answer as soon as I have it.

  2. Annmarie, thank you for asking for clarification about the specifics of this fundraiser. Here’s what our McDonald’s contact told me:

    Apple pies must be bought with cash in order for us to get the 100%. If pies are purchased at the register, they’ll be counted as part of a meal and we will earn 20%. We plan to have people walking around with pies and selling them face-to-face for cash.

    Orders that are placed through the app won’t count toward our fundraiser. The way McDonald’s is keeping track is to print a duplicate receipt at the register, and they aren’t able to do this via the app.

    So we hope you come inside the McDonald’s between 4 and 7 p.m., and we hope you place an order at the register, and we hope you bring a lot of cash to buy pies and/or make a donation to The Lansing Journal!

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