GREEN BAY, Wis. — Clean clothing. It's something many of us take for granted, but for some families that are struggling, washing their laundry just isn't in the budget. That's where Laundry Love-Green Bay is stepping in to fill the gap.
At the Corner Coin Laundry on North Irwin Avenue, on the second Tuesday of every month, you'll see a line of people who are anxious to wash their clothes.
"Homeless neighbors, low-income neighbors, no income neighbors, elderly or disabled neighbors. We see people from all walks of life," explained Natashia Atkinson, Lead Director of Laundry Love-Green Bay.
Atkinson and her team saw the need in the community.
"They have to choose between buying food or washing clothes and that didn't settle very well with us," she said.
Laundry Love-Green Bay collects donations to pay for laundry services. They provide free quarters, detergent and dryer sheets.
"It's actually really helpful, because people don't think about how laundry can be a big deal sometimes," said Bianca Spencer. "I do a lot of laundry. My toddler goes through at least two or three outfits a day."
The mother of three says one event is a $40 savings for her family.
"That can be gas, that can be food, that can be something else," she explained.
"Clean clothes provides dignity, and it provides a way for dads, moms, even teenagers to have and keep a job," said Atkinson, who added it also helps students stay in school.
"Truancy in Green Bay, a percentage of that is because of dirty clothing," which organizers said can lead to teasing and even health issues.
During Laundry Love events, a free meal is also served that has been donated by a local restaurant or group. For some, it's the only food they eat for the day.
"A lot of things that happen at our events bring tears to all of our eyes," said Atkinson.
Volunteers not only help people plug the machines, they also connect them with other helpful resources in the community such as UnitedHealthcare, which has a booth outside.
"Some of the programs we have are for those people that are the most needy, the people that have both Medicare and Medicaid," said Joseph Medinger with UnitedHealthcare.
But most of all, Atkinson said it's about providing a place where neighbors in need can find a warm smile, a listening ear and hope through the gift of clean clothes.
"I just appreciate and am grateful her group is here to help us out," said Byron Lewis Junior.
"We're building a community which is pretty amazing," added Atkinson. "They come as guests and they leave as friends of ours."
Laundry Love-Green Bay holds two events per month. The daytime event is the second Tuesday of the month at Corner Coin Laundry's east side location at 433 North Irwin Avenue. The evening event is the fourth Friday of the month at Corner Coin's west side location at 404 Mather Street.
Individuals are allowed to wash two loads and a family with children can wash five loads.
Laundry Love-Green Bay also teams up with Salon Fifty Four to provide free haircuts.
Laundry Love is a national initiative with 300 programs operating across the U.S. The Green Bay nonprofit started about a year ago and has already served thousands of people in need.
Click here to learn more about their services and how you can make a donation or volunteer.