Some schools offer more than just an education: It's becoming more common for schools to provide pantry items and toiletries to students who may not have access to such necessities at home. As CNN reports, West Side High School in Newark, New Jersey is building on this trend by installing an on-site laundromat that's free for students to use.
The new facilities were inspired by the West Side High students who don't always have clean clothes to wear to class—either because they don't have laundry machines at home or don't have homes at all. Principal Akbar Cook noticed that many of these kids were being teased by their classmates for wearing dirty clothes, and he suspected that was leading some of them to skip class. Absenteeism is a major problem for West Side High, with 85 percent of students chronically missing school.
Cook tried to tackle the issue by switching to darker uniforms, which should have allowed students to wear the same outfits for longer without attracting attention, but the clothes-related bullying didn't stop. Then, two years ago, he applied for a grant from a foundation connected to a Newark-based utility company and used the $20,000 he received to open a laundromat for the school.
The laundry room is housed in an old football locker room, and it features five washers, five dryers, and a selection of detergents. Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., students are welcome to use the machines under the supervision of an adult staff member.
The free laundromat will be open to students beginning on the first day of school, Tuesday, September 4. To help keep the facilities stocked with detergents, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, and other laundry products, you can donate items directly to the school through its Amazon Wish List.