Saturday is free laundry day in Norman.
With check-in starting at 9:45 a.m. Saturday at Sooner Wash Laundromat on E. Lindsey Street, free laundry day welcomes Norman residents to enjoy a little economic relief.
The first load goes in at 10 a.m. and the last at 12:30 p.m., on a first come, first-served basis. Families will receive $10 in coins for up to three loads of laundry.
The nonprofit Sox of Love, Inc. is hosting the community event through its initiative Laundry Love, which serves Norman, Oklahoma City and Del City.
Tamara Nelson, CEO of Sox of Love, Inc., said, it's important to recognize that even small boosts are significant for those who don't have access.
"So our biggest purpose is that we want to make sure that we are giving an economic relief to those low income/no income households," Nelson said. "A lot of people are not showing up and are not doing the things that they need to, because they simply don't have the confidence, because they don't feel clean or they don't look the part. So that's why it's important; it's more than we are just giving people free laundry, it's the why behind it."
She said, based on conversations with teachers and parents, that are many kids missing school because they don't have clean clothes.
"This provides them the chance to be able to get to school [and] participate. Also, it builds up their confidence so that they will show up," Nelson said. "It's usually not kids that are skipping school, it's that the parents won't take them, because they are embarrassed, they are ashamed."
Nelson said they are prepared for 50 families. Since the event is new to Norman, Nelson is anticipating about 20 families, but 50 is the target.
Kwai Wah Pang, owner of Sooner Wash Laundromat, is a Sox of Love, Inc. partner, and during the event he extended his day early bird special from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. lowering the washers and dryers by a dollar.
"At $1.50 if you just wash and dry you can do the same one at 20 pounds and you can do four loads wash and dry for the $10," Pang said. "That is about 80 pounds of laundry. That's quite a few."
St. Michael's Episcopal Church is providing free food, and Rob Wilson, of Yellow Dog Coffee Company, is providing free coffee.
"We typically have enough, if we can, to take something home," Nelson said. "But our first goal is to feed everybody that is there, because if you need help with laundry you are likely suffering from hunger, too."
Nelson said Norman is not the first place that Laundry Love served. The initiative started in August 2018 in Oklahoma City and then spread the service to Del City and Norman.
"The feedback, whether in Norman, Del City or Oklahoma City is that this is phenomenal," Nelson said.
Nelson said Sox of Love, Inc. began with sock donations and distribution. After some time, Nelson learned that the homeless population was throwing dirty socks in the trash and wanted to figure out a solution. That's what led to the Laundry Love initiative.
"After some research, this a real problem, and we had come to find out it was bigger problem than we understood it being." She said. "A lot of people are throwing their clothes in the trash and just trying to start over rather than wash them, because they don't have access."
Nelson said she anticipates the need for more Laundry Day events, but since the nonprofit is 100 percent donation based that will depend on funding. She said without help each event at each location would cost $800.
"So, with this being in the summertime, now that the kids are out, we anticipate the need to be more, because the kids are at home and more money is being spent to either entertain them or feed them," Nelson said.
There are more laundry days scheduled for Norman on July 27, Aug. 17 and Sept. 21.
Nelson said the nonprofit is looking for sponsors, partners, volunteers and partnerships. For more information, visit soxoflove.org or contact Norman team leader, Brenda Wilkins.