Editor’s Note: This post is written by Alisa Mitchell, Initiative Consultant for the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
For limited income families, one of their biggest expenses is something many people can take for granted: doing laundry. Each week families who need to do laundry at a laundromat can spend more than $25 to get their family’s clothes clean, a tough expense for those living in single-income households or dealing with financial emergencies.
On Saturday, August 18, community volunteers tried to ease this burden with the Pop-Up Neighbor event at SuperMatt Laundromat in Sarasota. Partnering with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and The Laundry Project, neighbors helped neighbors by providing free laundry detergent and dryer sheets. Free children’s books and other fun activities were also shared to keep the children around engaged in learning.
For many community members like Leslie, the free laundry event created some much-needed relief for her and her family.
“Things are really hard now,” she shared. Leslie, whose husband is chronically ill, only had enough money for laundry and bus fare on Saturday. The Pop-Up Neighbor event saved her at least ten dollars. “So we can have hamburger for dinner tonight instead of Ramen.”
Jason was at the laundromat while his wife waited at home with their four children. He also greatly appreciated the money he saved, which he estimated at $50. His family plans to leave Florida and move to Georgia next month. When asked if they were moving to be closer to family, he replied, “No, we just think we might have a better chance there.”
Kaman came to do laundry with her teenage son and grandson. When she first arrived, she only had a few loads of laundry. But once she realized what was happening, she went back and got the other things she couldn’t afford to wash that day. She said, “It’s tough, because my son plays football, so he always has a ton of stuff that needs washing.”
Currently, Kaman and her family are living with a friend. One of the things the family had planned for Saturday, in addition to laundry, was moving into a different home. “So today was going to be real hectic anyway. This is a big help,” she said.
The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is proud to be the Sarasota County Lead Partner for the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Our Grade-Level Reading work serves to support children reading on grade level by embracing the whole family. We refer to this as our 2Gen approach with the ultimate goal of supporting children and their parents together to build educational opportunities that lead the family on a path to economic stability. Supporting the Pop Up Neighbor event is just one of the ways we are helping our community be a good neighbor and support our families.