It’s Wednesday evening and you’ve got a big presentation Thursday afternoon. You go to your closet to discover the outfit you want to wear is dirty. “That’s okay” you think, “I’ll just wash it.” But just after you start the load, your washing machine breaks.
So you pull the load out and take it to the local laundromat. And while you’re at it, you might as well wash all your clothes at the same time, so you load it all up in your car, pack a book, and plan to spend the next couple hours hanging out watching your clothes tumble.
Only when you arrive at the laundromat, you see that it’s rather crowded. People are turning in gumballs for quarters and washing their clothes. There’s the homeless man that sits on the corner every morning. And the family from the unemployment office you volunteer at. It looks like the people from the neighborhood church are helping them do their laundry. And wait a second … it looks like they are doing more than just laundry … they’re hanging out talking to one another!
Just what is going on here?
It’s a little thing called Laundry Love and it’s happening all over the nation. Take a look:
A quick Google search will bring up a list of Laundry Love Projects (LLPs) in all sorts of places: Jacksonville, FL, Santa Ana, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, Waco, TX, Camas, WA, and more. For just a couple hours each week, people from all backgrounds are hanging out in laundromats.
Yes – they are washing clothes for free, but they are doing so much more than that … they are building relationships with one another. People who would normally pass one another on the street without a second glance are spending time together, sharing stories, becoming community.
I’ve never really thought about how a simple thing like clean clothes really makes a difference in someone’s life until I discovered this ministry. And I realized … clean clothes can restore dignity for someone who has none.
Clean clothes help us feel like we can go anywhere. We can do anything. We aren’t embarrassed because our jeans have grease stains. We don’t constantly worry about the smell coming from our shirts. We confidently walk into the world and continue with our day to day life.
But when we have no clean clothes, we want to hide. We may be afraid of what people think as we pass by them. We lose our self-esteem and our dignity slowly fades away.
So yes – it may be a load or two of free laundry. But to these people who don’t have the opportunity to do laundry at their own convenience … it’s so much more.