The Art of Surprise: Pop-up Neighbor Through Laundry

The Art of Surprise: Pop-up Neighbor Through Laundry

Posted on May 18, 2023 by Beth Duda, director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Many families dread going to the laundromat due to transportation issues, time, and cost. According to the website, FiscalTiger, based on an average of eight loads of laundry per week, the average monthly cost to do laundry is $166.72. Now, imagine a family with an infant, multiple children who play sports, or adults with jobs that quickly soil uniforms. The amount of laundry they generate weekly and the weekly cost of doing laundry jumps significantly. Think of how that family might have to decide not to wash sheets, towels, or some articles of clothing because they simply can’t afford the laundry fees.

The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) has partnered with The Laundry Project to assist asset-limited families with meeting this basic need – washing clothes and linens, by turning laundromats into community centers of hope. For several hours, at an event we call Pop-Up Neighbor Through Laundry, laundry fees are paid through the generosity of The Patterson Foundation, while SCGLR Engagement Team members and volunteers assist with laundry services, entertain children at a book nook, and create a caring space with community partners.

On Saturday, May 13, we held the 24th Pop Up Neighbor Through Laundry event at SuperMatt Laundromat in Bradenton. Forty-one families washed 530 loads of laundry for free, bringing our total families served to 1,083 and the total number of loads to 11,122. Not only were families surprised by the unexpected gift of having their laundry fees covered, but they were also treated to:

  • fresh produce provided by All Faiths Food Bank
  • new, high-quality children’s books provided by the ELC of Manatee County and SCGLR
  • information and free baby wipes from First 1,000 Days, 
  • a wealth of information about available community resources by United Way Suncoast
  • information about UnidosNow, an organization that elevates the quality of life of the growing Hispanic/Latino community
  • information about the Affordable Connectivity Program, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) low-cost internet/broadband expansion program formerly known as the Emergency Broadband Benefit. This program provides a $30 reduction in internet services with participating Internet Service Providers, access to low-cost or free devices, and skills training based on various client eligibility areas such as SNAP, SSI, Free and Reduced Lunch Program, and households at 200% or below the federal poverty level guidelines provided by Digital Access 4 All.
  • information from MCR Health

Families entered the parking lot with dread, which quickly changed to hope and joy when they discovered a Pop-Up Neighbor Through Laundry event was taking place. Smiles, relief, laughter, and many phone calls of the news filled the space with feelings of friendship and, yes, hope.

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