Local woman spearheading effort for Free Laundromat DayWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As a branch of her extreme coupon “ministry,” Joni Meyer-Crothers is calling on Toledoans to step up in their giving by “adopting” a laundromat from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 27 for Free Laundromat Day.
Meyer-Crothers, a local who has made national headlines with her book and blog on extreme couponing, is asking businesses, churches and families to pay for wash and dry cycles, detergent, fabric softener and other supplies for those in need at participating laundromats.
The community service event was born out of Meyer-Crothers’ Bible-based beliefs about giving rather than receiving and helping one’s neighbor.
“So many people take for granted doing their laundry, but the working poor are struggling. … How do they get their clothes washed?” Meyer-Crothers said. “There’s no strings attached. That’s what the Bible tells us to do: Help someone else out because who knows when we will be in that position.”
In February, Meyer-Crothers held the inaugural adopt-a-laundromat at All-Wash Laundromat on Broadway Street. This time, she wants to adopt out most of Toledo’s laundromats at the same time.
“We thought we could do it for the whole city,” she said. “How cool would that be to have all the laundromats for three hours?”
As of press time, $1,200 has been raised, which is enough to adopt two out of 15 participating laundromats. She wants to raise $9,400 more for the 13 remaining laundromats, for a total of $10,600. That translates into 2,040 loads of laundry washed and dried.
The laundromats cost between $441 and $953 to “adopt” for three hours, based on Meyer-Crothers’ calculations.
Organizations and individuals who don’t want to adopt an entire laundromat can donate as little as a dollar by going to her website www.freetastesgood.com. On the website, you can also check out a video posted from February’s event.
Meyer-Crothers is also seeking donations of laundry detergent, fabric softener, bleach and dryer sheets.
The event will also need to staff volunteers who will “mingle” with those who are benefiting, Meyers-Crothers said.
“It’s a fellowship thing to get to know the people,” she said. “We want to serve the people.”
Tiffany Geer of Deshler gave a donation to Free Laundromat Day because she said she knows firsthand the struggles of not being able to afford laundry.
“When the depression hit, my husband was in construction. We went from a good income to not a good income at all,” Geer said. “There were two things that were hard to come by: laundry detergent and toilet paper.”
Geer said she loves being able to give back to others and works closely with Meyer-Crothers on helping to feed the homeless.
“I’ve seen a mother washing clothes out of a sink and you don’t forget very often — it sticks with you,” she said. “I hope this helps people be inspired to give back.”
At February’s Free Laundromat Day, 111 loads of laundry were washed and dried at the participating laundromat, Meyer-Crothers said. She said the day was “the neatest thing ever” and that she was able to help a lot of people.
“One guy was laid off and getting back to work on Monday and he had no idea how to get his laundry done,” she said.
Meyer-Crothers is an “extreme couponer” frequently featured in the national media, including TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” “The Today Show,” “Rachael Ray,” FOX News and AOL’s You’ve Got.
She and her husband, Jamie Crothers, have seven children. She started couponing to save money on groceries after Jamie was laid off from his automotive job in 2007. A friend showed her how to use coupons, and within two weeks she had purchased $3,000 worth of food for just $100. At the time, she thought, “This isn’t couponing, this is ministry.”
The couple started an open pantry in their garage with a commercial freezer filled with meats, frozen vegetables and frozen dinners and a refrigerator filled with milk, butter, eggs, cheese and juice. People can go into the garage any time, day or night, and take what they need. Couponing has allowed Meyer-Crothers to help hundreds of people.
“All we ask is that when they’re in a better position, they pass the blessing on to others,” Meyer-Crothers has said.