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Laundry Love is officially underway in Racine. The simple program that provides free clothes washing services for underserved residents kicked off in a big way Tuesday at Velvet Touch Laundromat on Lathrop Avenue.

Patty Pavia and her son, Mario Pavia, are both on disability, and Patty said after paying rent, utilities and buying food, cash for laundry can be hard to come by.

“To have this is means so much. No one wants to leave the house in dirty clothes,” Patty said. “Thank God we have people who care about others.”

Rev. Kevin Stewart, director of The Hospitality Center, said people were lined up at 4:15 even though the program didn’t begin until 5 p.m. He explained the process: numbers were handed out to individuals and to one member of a group or family. Volunteers would call the numbers and then feed quarters and soap into machines.

Laundry Love is a ministry of The Hospitality Center.

“It’s what? 5:17 now and all machines are running,” he said with a big smile. “I mean, this is like, boom, you know?”

By 5:18, there were 38 names on the list, and people continued to arrive, stuffing the entrance to get out of the rain. By 5:35 p.m., Laundry Love had used $300 worth of quarters.

Sherrie, 50, and her daughter, Masheeka, 28, were grateful for the help. Sherrie did not want to give a last name but Masheeka said having some help getting her clothes washed took some worry away for the week.

“This was right on time,” Masheeka said.

For volunteer Norman Smith, Jr. helping neighbors do their laundry was all about giving back. As an outreach worker for the Hopes Center, he does already does a lot for the community, but he said there’s still more he can give.

“I’m here to try and make a difference, to make it easier on my neighbors by doing their laundry,” he added. “Even as an outreach worker, it’s not enough, but that’s okay because there is always more to do.”

The next Laundry Love is scheduled from Tues., Dec. 30 at Velvet Touch, but if Stewart can raise $1,000 in the next few weeks, he can put together a November event.

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