While many of us celebrated the spirit of giving this holiday season, there are still many in need. Local non-profit Serve NWA works to reduce the number of hard choices thousands face when it comes to going without.
The organization turns area laundromats into centers for relief for Northwest Arkansans living in poverty with the Laundry of Love initiative. They do that by redirecting people’s limited money for clean clothes back toward other basic needs one load at a time.
‘Okay, do I really need to wash this or can I wear it one more time?’ That’s the question Laundry of Love volunteer George Santhuff says too many ask themselves.
Thanks to the Laundry of Love program, the very basic necessity of clean clothes is possible for those facing hard times. Santhuff has served as a volunteer for the Fayetteville branch of the program for some time now.
Serve NWA board member Stephanie Maass told KNWA the hand-up makes a difference for the area’s homeless population and those who just need a little help.
“We utilize the offerings of donors with donations and volunteers once a month to do free laundry for people in our community,” Maass explained.
George has seen all types at the laundromat, but it is the families with school-aged children that have made the biggest impression on him.
“Those kids need clean clothes to go to [school], you know,” Santhuff said. “And if they have to spend extra money, maybe they’ll end up having to do without something that they need.”
“By the time they have spent money on housing, transportation, clothing [and] food; often times laundry falls to the bottom of the list.” Maass said.
Laundry of Love means a lot to George, not just because he is a volunteer, but also because his home is a tent.
“I lived basically from paycheck to paycheck, Santhuff explained. “And whenever the economy fell out in 2007, then things started getting harder and harder.”
George’s own struggles serve as an important reminder — the simplest of events can mean the difference between a life of security and one no one ever expects.
“It can actually help you out,” Santhuff said. “And the main thing is that it’s people showing that they care.”
Laundry of Love also provides a warm meal for those taking advantage of the free laundry services at the various events they hold each month in Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville.
The next opportunity to take part is coming up on the evening of January Sixth in all three cities. Serve NWA also welcomes volunteers, as well as donations of money and laundry supplies. You can find more information about Laundry of Love by clicking here.