MEDINA — Doing laundry is something most people take for granted.
However, if it’s a matter of pumping quarters into a washing machine at a Laundromat or putting food on the table, the choice can seem downright dirty.
That’s why the Medina United Church of Christ, Congregational, is sponsoring the Jackie Smith Laundry Program for Kids that caters to low-income families at Garfield Elementary School and their siblings at Claggett Middle School.
At-Large Councilman Bill Lamb and Medina resident Jessika Petersen, members at UCCC, raise donations for $25 vouchers. Steve Ferris, government affairs director at Discount Drug Mart, has donated enough detergent to do 900 loads of laundry.
The families wash their clothes at North Court Laundromat, 739 W. Liberty St. The program got off the ground in the last month.
“It turned out to be a cool thing,” Lamb said. “Each part just fit. The money goes to the church. The church provides vouchers to North Court (through Nicole Harris of OhioGuidestone).
“It’s a cool, multiple partnership. There are more youngsters wearing clean clothes. I feel good about it.”
Lamb said the idea for the program came from a discussion he had with UCCC member Jackie Smith, who is the namesake behind the program.
He ended up talking to Harris, site coordinator for OhioGuidestone, who works with children at Garfield.
“I found out how severe the problem was,” Lamb said. “(Harris) knows who is struggling.”
Harris said the program is actually for anyone in need, but Garfield families are the priority.
“For the past two years, I’ve watched my students (at Garfield) be bullied for not having clean clothes,” Harris said. “Students miss school for not having clean clothes, as well.
“The program has been very successful thus far. My families are very (thankful) for the help and I am very grateful to be a part of it.”
Lamb said he and Petersen attempt to raise $250 a week getting donations at church and by putting out donation cans in some businesses.
“We don’t even know who we’re helping,” Lamb said. “It’s part of our church mission. It’s making peoples’ lives better.”
Susan Paoletta, owner of North Court, said the program is going great.
“The people who have used the program have been great,” she said. “They are very happy to have the ability to come in and get caught up washing clothes.”
A North Court laundry attendant Dawn Mouzon said she hopes the program takes off at other schools and areas in the county.
Once the families come to the laundry to wash their clothes, they try to keep it as inconspicuous as possible.
“It’s not like we make a big deal out of it and everyone knows,” Mouzon said. “We don’t draw attention to it. We treat them like everybody else.”
She said having clean clothes is a necessity everyone needs to have.
Mouzon said about 10 families are currently using the voucher program, with more on the way.
“It’s still in its infancy,” she said.
Mouzon said Paoletta has been on the front line of the program.
“I was always taught if someone is down to help them up,” Mouzon said. “It’s not a hand out, but a hand up.”