If you’re lucky enough to have someone else washing your clothes for you, chances are that person loves you. (And it’s probably your mom, dad or spouse doing the dirty work.)
A volunteer mission called Laundry Love, however, spreads the affection beyond the immediate family to help the needy get the clean clothes that otherwise might be hard to come by.
According to the nonprofit’s website, Laundry Love began about 12 years ago when members of a church in Ventura, Calif., wanted to know what they could do to help a homeless man known as T-Bone. He said, “If I had clean clothes I think people would treat me like a human being.”
Since then, many other churches and volunteer groups have joined the effort, renting out a number of Laundromats across the country for a night to wash the clothes of homeless and low-income people, while also getting to know them and trying to help them in other ways.
Krysta Fauria of the Associated Press spoke to Victoria Mitchell, who began coming to Laundry Love gatherings in Huntington Beach when she was living in her car with her baby daughter. The volunteers took up a collection to help her rent an apartment. Now Mitchell has a steady job, too.
“You’re not just checking a box to give a donation. You’re spending the whole evening with these people and getting your hands dirty and it’s intimate — you’re doing people’s laundry,” Mitchell’s friend and Laundry Love volunteer LuzAnna Figueroa tells Fauria.
Some of the volunteers were once down on their luck, too. Christian Kassoff, founder of the Huntington Beach Laundry Love chapter, was once addicted to heroin and living out of his car. Now he leads an enthusiastic group of volunteers helping others. “I’m not wealthy, but I have the gift of time and a heart for it, so this fits,” Kassoff tells Fauria.