New Life Wichita
Weekly Attendance: 75
A ministry that helps people do laundry has helped some students improve their academic performance, says Chad Pickering, pastor of New Life Wichita, a Covenant congregation.
The church participates with two other congregations in Wichita, Kansas, to support Project Laundry. The outreach provides funds to residents to cover the cost of three loads of laundry at a time at a local laundromat, Pickering says.
The ministry was started in 2017 by GracePoint Church. When New Life and another congregation joined the effort, each church “adopted” a local laundromat, all of which are owned by the same person.
People bring their clothes to the laundromat on the second Thursday of the month, and the ministry provides enough quarters for three loads. New Life has provided up to $500 a night at their adopted site, Spring Clean Northeast. The owner of the laundromat has set aside a bank of washers and dryers to make sure there are enough for the ministry to use and provides detergent pods and dryer sheets.
“People have said they’ve had to choose between doing laundry or eating,” Pickering says.
The project website states, “We are changing lives one load at a time.” Some parents have told the volunteers that their children were being bullied at school because their clothes smelled bad. That ended once the children had regular clean clothes. Some of those students have improved their academic performance.
“We’ve had moms in tears thanking us,” Pickering says.
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, anywhere from 40 to 70 families would bring laundry on Project Laundry nights. The church also provided 25 to 30 pizzas, fresh vegetables, and dessert, as well as live music. Volunteers from the church played with the children and talked with the adults while they waited for their laundry.
The ministry has made adjustments due to the pandemic. Now only 15 to 20 families bring their laundry, and the volunteers don’t interact with them as before. New Life Wichita still provides a laundry kit to each person with a roll of quarters, detergent, and dryer sheets, as well as a gift certificate to Chick-fil-A.
Pickering hopes deeper connections will be made. “We want to bring people to Christ,” he says.