Non-profit helps 33 families do more than 300 loads of laundry during afternoon of ‘soap and hope’

It was an afternoon of soap and hope inside A&W Laundromat in South St. Petersburg as dozens of families washed and dried their clothes for free thanks to the Laundry Project.

"I brought two loads. I have a friend, she got three kids, she brought like five loads," said Mary Bellamy.

Word spread quickly that it was free wash day and it didn’t take long for all 18 washing machines to become full. The Laundry Project, a non-profit, teamed up with the St. Petersburg Police Department to pick up the tab for three hours.

"For a lot of families it's a real choice between buying groceries or washing their clothes, so we want to help alleviate that burden a little bit," explained President & CEO of Current Initiatives Laundry Project Jason Sowell.

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Sowell and the officers cracked stacks of quarters to feed the machines and also provided detergent and fabric softener.  The act of kindness helped lessen the load on families in the community.

"I spend like $40 a month on wash alone, and that don’t include the detergent," Bellamy shared.

"It's nerve-wracking because I don't really get a lot of money. I'm on a fixed income. I get SSI. So by the time I pay my rent and get a little bit of food, I don't have much leftover," shared Lora Smith from St. Petersburg.  "So this like really saved me."

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Bellamy, Smith and 33 other families were able to wash and dry their clothes today totaling 321 loads of laundry now clean.

Something many people take for granted.

"We don't think about how much dignity, how much empowerment comes from just being able to put on clean clothes, send our kids to school wearing clean clothes to sleep in clean sheets, clean towels, all those things are just tangible representations of hope," Sowell said.

The next local free wash day by the laundry project is this Saturday in Tampa.  It runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Big Load Laundry.

LINK: Learn more about the Laundry Project at

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