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Loads of Love's legacy continues

LOADS OF LOVE: Jane Schlup, a member of Hope Rising church and longtime volunteer with the Loads of Love Ministry, checks on a dryer in JJ’s Washroom. Schlup spends every Wednesday at noon washing, drying, and folding clothes for people in need.

by James Ehle - jehle@h-ponline.com

Every Wednesday at noon, volunteers with the Loads of Love ministry can be found at a local laundromat washing, drying, and folding clothes for people in need.

“You learn a lot about a person folding clothes with them,” said Erin Didion, Ministry Coordinator at Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) in Huntington.

Didion says clean clothes are an everyday necessity for going to work, going to school, and basic needs. For people in need of clean clothes, she says it’s as simple as calling in to Love INC and getting on their schedule.

“It’s our hope, through this ministry, that relationships are built and strangers become friends,” Didion said. “It just reinforces that sense of community, and all of us as a community care about our neighbors’ basic needs.”

The number of loads is limited to 10 per week due to volunteer and funding size. The number has grown from four or five loads per month when the ministry first got started, to 40 or 50 loads every month, according to Didion.

“We can do one load of laundry per person in a household, up to six per household.”

The operation is funded by donations which help cover costs from utilizing the laundromat.

“We try to help churches help people,” said Love INC executive director, Logan Patterson. “We think that our local churches are valuable to people in our community that are struggling and are hurting, and to connect with those communities is important.”

Patterson saw the Loads of Love ministry grow from its earliest roots at 509 Community church when the church put a laundromat inside of the church. He says the JJ’s Washroom’s central location makes it easier for people to get to, in addition to being more sustainable.

“It’s a good, disarming place to meet people too,” Patterson said. “As much as we love getting people into our churches, sometimes it’s better to have a more neutral place to meet people.

“To see the church coming out of their building, it’s good.”

Loads of Love ministry was originally a partnership between Love INC and the 509 Community church, where Patterson was a part of the pastoral staff. When the 509 closed its doors last year, there was still a need for clean clothes, so Love INC took over in August of 2018.

Love INC reached out to Hope Rising Church and formed a partnership for the Loads of Love ministry. The volunteers with Hope Rising church handle all of the washing, drying and folding.

Jane Schlup, a member of Hope Rising church and one of the original volunteers, has been spending her Wednesday noon hour in the laundromat almost every week since last October.

“This is my pastor, this is my husband, and this is me,” said Schlup in reference to the names on the laundry ministry schedule dating back to Oct. 24, 2018.

Schlup says she’s seen people at different stages of life, listened to tales of hardships, and even a few success stories.

“People will come in and tell me their stories and how life is treating them lately,” Schlup said. “Some I’ll see regularly then they’ve been out looking for jobs, and apparently they’ve gotten a job because I don’t see them anymore.”

According to Didion, the Loads of Love ministry isn’t meant to completely take away the burden associated with the cost of cleaning clothes, but she hopes the operation can ease it a bit.