week #5: Love in a Laundry Basket

Did you know that 10$ = one roll of quarters = the cost for one family to wash their clothes at a laundromat. One time.

Most of us reading this blog, I’d dare to guess, have the luxury of at least having a washing machine- if not a matching dryer, in our home. We may remember the days of the university dorms scrounging for quarters in the pockets of our jeans in order to clean our laundry, or moving into our first apartment where we had lug a laundry basket to the laundromat on the weekends so we had clean underwear on Monday.

For me this is a memory. For many families in the US the laundromat is the way clothes get clean. Every week, at 10$ a load. I have to say I was pretty surprised to learn that it takes a whole role of quarters to wash and dry a load of laundry. I live alone and probably wash at least three loads a week once I throw in sheets and towels. Imagine how the quarters add up for a large family living on a low income. The cost of cleaning clothes can become a financial burden, and sometimes when money gets low, things just can’t get washed.

A few months ago I sat for coffee in Ybor City, Florida with Jason Sowell, the founder and president of Current, the organization that runs Laundry Love- an amazing project that helps meet a very simple and felt need for low income families: clean clothes and linens.

Jason’s personal goal is to educate others on social initiatives and mobilize them to bring about change. Laundry Love is just one of the ways he’s helping people do just that.

Laundry Love aim to turn neighborhood laundromats into places of community. On designated days, families can wash their clothing at no cost, thanks to private and corporate sponsors. But it isn’t just about the laundry. “We are trying to make the world better by turning laundromats into places of relief by paying for laundry fees, visiting with the participants and entertaining their children.” Jason said.

This week we’ve decided to give 10 more rolls of quarters towards Laundry Love’s next project. We also asked Jason to #give10 answers to us about what Laundry Love did with our donation and what they think of small donors. Here’s what he said:

1. Last year we gave $10 to Laundry Love. What has this done? How can a small 10$ donation make a difference in achieving your mission?

The great thing about this project is that $10 makes a big difference. That $10 payed for an entire washing & drying of a large load of laundry for a family.

2. What project accomplished are you most proud of this year?

One thing we are super proud of is that we recently hosted two projects at two locations simultaneously and had huge support from local businesses and churches. We launched a new location with the help of employees from a local Starbucks store who helped raise funds & supplies and worked alongside a local church to staff the location with volunteers. It was so inspiring seeing local businesses partner together and begin new relationships to better the community.

3. What is one thing you wish that the people who give to your cause knew or understood better?

That their donation makes a bigger difference than just paying for laundry. Something as simple as clean laundry brings so much dignity to a person and gives a lot of hope in a way that most people take for granted. Their donation is providing hope for a family, not just clean laundry.

4. What do you think stops people from giving to a charity?

I think one thing is that people feel like they can’t truly see what their money goes to. People want to see that their money directly affects people in need so if that’s not evident then people are hesitant to give. Money is tight for a lot of people and if someone is going to give they want to know that their donation, no matter what amount, is meaningful and put to good use

5. What do you think motivates the people who do donate to give again?

Seeing how their money helped. If they get a chance to see how their donation bettered the life of someone else then most people can’t help but continue to give. It becomes personal to them because they have a face to connect their donation to.

6. Doing world changing work isn’t free. Can you explain the model that your project uses to cover its operating costs?

We really do what we can do keep operating costs low. Our project/organization is mostly volunteer run. We really depend on great people who believe in the cause to give their time to administrate things. We also lean on our closest supporters to donate towards our operating budget so that we can truly put as much outside donations as we can directly into paying for a laundry project.

7. What do you think is the role of the individual who can only make a small donation?

Small donations in numbers adds to a lot of support. I think it’s very simple for the “small donation” giver. Give what you can and tell other people about it. One person can double & triple their small donation by simply encouraging their friends to give a small donation as well.

8. What are you most excited about this coming year?

We are really excited about the new locations & cities we are seeing this branch into. We are adding new cities across the country and are coaching some teams in other cities to begin their own Laundry Love Projects. We’re really excited to see what happens in these new locations.

9. What are three other projects you want other donors to learn about and support?

The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking

LiNK (Liberty in North Korea)

Just One

10. How did you come up with this idea?

I wish I could say it was my idea, but I “stole” it from a friend. A friend started the idea of Laundry Love Projects in Portland for homeless people and I saw the value of clean laundry for struggling people. So we partnered up and started our own version of these projects and it’s gone from there.

Want to know more about Laundry Love? They’re hip and they’re all over the interwebs. Catch them here, and give a roll of quarters if you can spare it.

Laundry Love on the web: www.laundrybycurrent.org

facebook: engagecurrent 

twitter: @engagecurrent 

Donate your own roll of quarters to Laundry Love

Thanks for reading. Now, I think I’ve got some laundry to do.




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