Free laundry service keeps RPS 205 students fresh for learning

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — With the school year underway, Rockford students can wash their back-to-school clothes for free thanks to the Rockford Police Department’s Fresh for Learning program.

“A kid comes in with clothes, usually with their parent, they step over to the table with me, I sign them up and ask them if they need detergent,” explained Rock House Officer Patrice Turner. “We go ahead and pick a washer and we control it from our cellphones actually.”

The free laundry program, which allows RPS students to complete two loads each, runs Wednesdays from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Five Alarm Coin Laundry located at 3939 W. Riverside Blvd.

“This idea came to fruition based on truancy. I saw that a lot of kids were not attending school because they didn’t have clean uniforms to wear to school,” said Ofc. Turner. “I figured if there was a way to supply them with clean uniforms, they would feel better about going to school. Look sharp, be sharp.”

RPD partnered with Molina Healthcare and Five Alarm Coin Laundry to keep students “fresh for learning.” It’s the third year of the program, but organizers believe the service is more important now than during school years past, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We understand that all families are going through financial strain right now, and we think that students… can focus better, they can do more stuff if they are clean,” said Molina Healthcare Community Outreach Specialist Jenniffer Rojas.

“It’s a good thing that they’re doing, helping us out, the community. Just helping us since the virus and everything,” said RPS freshman Javier Torres who washed laundry with his brother.

The event also serves as an opportunity for students to learn how to wash and dry their own clothing.

Sixth grade student Tamyra says doing the laundry an easy skill to learn, “first you get your [clothes] together, then you come to the laundromat, then you put your stuff in a washer, put the change in, get your bleach, and then put it in the [washing machine].”

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