Laundry Love Hamilton, the nonprofit that restores dignity one laundry load at a time, needs donations.
Stefani Jackson, director of the nonprofit, said the need in the community is greater than ever.
“I am staying up late scrambling and praying for grants,” Jackson said. “I’m getting all the grants I can, but it can only go so far.”
The increased number of loads and costs show the continued need for the services.
In fact, October’s numbers for loads done outpaced their services for all of 2019.
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In 2019, Laundry Love covered 796 loads at a cost of $2,339.25 while the final count for just this October was 1,068 loads for $2,792.25.
Laundry Love was also impacted by the COVID pandemic. It was hosting monthly face-to-face events but in March of 2020 Laundry Love Board members decided to keep offering services by asking guests to make appointments instead. Jackson said more people participated as guests liked the flexibility and confidentiality of appointments.
In 2020, Laundry Love covered 3,064 loads at a cost of $10,163.75 and the numbers keep increasing with more guests needing laundry access.
“In August this year we started seeing a new group of guests due to many renters being displaced when the owners placed their homes up for sale,” she said. “This left many renters without having access to laundry facilities. As word spread, we kept up the pace and had many more take advantage of our services.”
In September, Laundry Love covered 706 loads, serving 235 guests, and spending $2,026.75.
So far in 2021, Laundry Love has covered 5,341 loads at a cost of $13,208.50 with November and December yet to come. Laundry Love has clothing and blanket load limits according to the number of people in the family.
Jackson said seeing the need up close breaks her heart.
“Nobody thinks we have a homeless population,” she said. “But if you go to the grocery store or a school and you see a car that’s kind of covered up, that’s a homeless person. You may not even think about that car, but that’s a family. The community may not see it because they are not sitting on the street begging. If I didn’t do Laundry Love I’d probably think the same thing.”
But Jackson said she sees the need, meets the earnest people who just need a little help and tries to keep their dignity.
“I got a call from a homeless couple as they stood in the laundromat with a bag full of clothes, asking for money so they could finish washing their clothes,” she said. “They had never heard of our service and were thankful for our quick trip down with their funds. As I approached them, I searched for the right words to avoid them feeling awkward or judged.”
In addition to covering the cost of a load of wash, the detergent and fabric softener, Laundry Love hands out bags of hygiene items. Jackson said she is looking for donations of those items too.
“One guest stated, ‘when I receive my bag of goodies, I feel like it is Christmas’ and I was recently told by two guests that they do not remember the last time laundry detergent was on their clothing and their children’s clothing,” she said.
Through her efforts, the Bombas sock company is donating 7,500 pairs of socks in mid-November. Laundry Love will hand those out to their laundry guests and children in local schools.
“With so many children living in poverty, life gets confusing, stressful and scary,” Jackson said. “They are going to school trying to concentrate on their studies and hide their personal lives. We always think of dignity as being important to adults, but our children need to have dignity too.”
Jackson said she appreciates the previous donations from the supportive community.
“With your support and dedication to restoring dignity, we are able to accomplish this every day,” she said. “You choose to give willingly but will never experience seeing their faces as I put the quarters in the machine or the vision of them smelling their clothing as they come out of the dryer. Know that I appreciate all you do to support a mission that is as important to you as it is to me.”
Jackson said Laundry Love can continue to restore dignity to so many due to community support, donations from foundations and businesses that offer grants.
To donate to Laundry Love Hamilton, contact Stefani Jackson at 406-369-3416 or visit the website www.laundrylovehamilton.com/.