Free laundry at this high school sparks attendance and class participation

Photo: Shutterfly

Having access to a washer and dryer at home is not a luxury every family can afford. South Carolina teacher Amanda Cooper noticed that some of her students struggled to find a place where they could clean their clothes. She decided to create a confidential laundry service at school — free of charge. Her initiative is increasing class participation by a whopping 84 percent, according to TV station WMC.

“Our guidance department had several students that would ask to use the telephone so they could obtain change to go to the laundromat that day to wash their clothes,” Cooper said.

The Goose Creek High School joined the Whirlpool Care Counts Program, which is aimed to address attendance issues by providing kids with clean clothes. The South Carolina high school is one of 17 participating schools around the country. Students who have access to clean clothing go to school 10 more days than they would without, according to Whirlpool.

According to Whirpool, one in five students struggles with access to clean clothes. Some 86 percent of high-risk (those who have missed 15 days or more) students increased their attendance in the 2016-2017 program. 

Here’s how it works: Students fill out a form to be a part of the service and are given bags for their laundry. The fresh laundry is returned that same day.

Some of Cooper’s pupils are volunteering to wash their classmates’ clothes.

“We’re learning to give back and just to help somebody that can’t have what we would usually have at home,” Coral Runge, a sophomore, said. “Growing up I was really the one that did laundry, and I know how important it is to have clean clothes on time for school and important events, so I wanted to help.”

The service was made possible through donations by the school’s leaders and the community. The program currently can serve 15 students, but there are plans to expand it.

Cooper said students in the program wouldn’t be able to attend school on a regular basis if it weren’t for the laundry service.

“To build from within and to create a positive culture in our school is just unbelievable,” she said.

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