KAPAA — When patrons stopped by the Kapaa Laundromat in the Kapaa Shopping Center Wednesday night, they did more than clean clothes.
That’s because there were chips, snacks, cake and cold drinks to be had, for free.
“There was a family who dropped off their load of laundry and settled down at the table, outside to enjoy the treats,” said David Murray, senior warden at the All Saints’ Episcopal Church and Preschool. “They’re just coming out of their car, now to pick up their load. A lady was waiting from 3 p.m. just to be the first in line.”
Murray, Mary Margaret Smith, and members of the Laundry Love Team C were celebrating the third anniversary of the All Saints’ Laundry Love program that launched its first program on June 15, 2015 at the Kapaa Laundromat.
The Laundry Love program takes place on the first and third Wednesday of each month where volunteers wash, dry, and fold patrons’ laundry — for free — from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Kapaa Laundromat.
“We’re lucky, tonight,” Smith said. “Usually, we do about 80 loads. We had about 70 loads tonight. The loads are based on the guidelines that include three loads maximum for an individual, and five loads for families. People drop off the loads, go off to tend to errands and come back to pick up the cleaned laundry before closing. Some people stay to help fold the dried clothes.”
Geoffrey Shields, Laundry Love Ministry leader, said since the program started they have done about 6,000 loads of free laundry for people.
“But beyond that, we also have gotten to know our brothers and sisters in the community, many of whom are houseless, and some struggling to make ends meet,” he said. “All Saints’ Church has been able to take the Gospel beyond the walls of the church by rolling up our sleeves and reaching out to those in need through a simple mission to provide clean, free laundry.”
Murray said there are no laundromats from the Kapaa Shopping Center, northward.
“We tend to see a lot of people from the North Shore,” Murray said. “We see a lot of people who work on farms, and there are families who don’t have a washer or dryer at home.”
Smith said the biggest loads they’ve worked with was when the numbers soared to 100 loads.
“This is a great ministry, and we love doing it,” she said. “One of the biggest reasons for the success of Laundry Love is the Hashisaka family who owns and operates the laundromat. They let us use the facility and store the supplies. Usually, they’re here to make sure everything is working right, too.”
Smith said it usually costs about $400 in supplies on a Laundry Love meeting.
“We were really lucky, one year,” said Wayne Doliente, a volunteer with Team C. “Gain soap granted us soap and drying sheets for one year.”
Smith said the Laundry Love program was born from an idea of a church doing the program on the mainland.
“We were the first church in Hawaii to do this type of program,” she said. “We’ve tried to get other churches to do the program in other parts of the island, but so far, no one has been able to get anything going. This is such a great program, and the volunteers love doing it. We’re going to be here as long as we’re needed.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.