LONG BEACH, Calif. — “When we’re in challenging economic times … people have to make choices,” says Gregory Sanders, senior pastor at TheROCK Christian Fellowship in Long Beach, Calif. “Laundry does have a tendency of being kind of the last thing on the priority list.”
For this reason, Sanders explains that members of his congregation set up their Laundry Project to help members of the Long Beach community get their laundry done for free.
“What we simply have them do is they bring their laundry, they put it in the washer, they put it in the dryer and we put the quarters in,” says Sanders.
The idea for the Laundry Project, which the congregation has been doing for three years now, was inspired by another area church.
“[The idea] resonated with us,” he says. “Our first one was on the east side of Long Beach … and it was just tremendously successful. People … were just amazed that someone would actually provide a service at no cost and no gimmicks or motives.”
Sanders says he encourages everyone in the congregation to be involved in the project, which he explains is a perfect example of their beliefs.
“It’s something that every level of our church can participate in,” says Sanders. “Our youngest children bring their quarters or their dimes, or nickels, and … our church just finds it so rewarding to serve our community in this way.”
“We don’t use these [events] as an opportunity to proselytize, or convert … or bring people to TheROCK, it’s a way to see Christ in action,” adds Sanders. “[The event has become] a portable way to share Christ’s message through love and care in parts of our community that really need it most.”
The group will host its fifth Laundry Project from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday at Mama’s Coin Laundry in Long Beach, Calif. In addition to the free laundry, a local 7-Eleven will provide free pizza, hot dogs and beverages for attendees.
“We try to create an atmosphere that is festive,” says Sanders. “We connect with people [and] people connect with each other.”
Community members have responded well to the Laundry Project, according to Sanders, as many give monetary donations, as well as food and water, for the event. This is the first 2013 Laundry Project for TheROCK, which plans on hosting another before the year ends.
“It’s no strings attached, no requirements whatsoever,” says Sanders. “Everyone is invited. It’s conversation, not conversion.”
Community members who come to the Laundry Projects are “deeply appreciative” for the service, he adds.
“That little blessing just seems to carry so much weight with [them],” he says.
“Clean clothes makes such a difference in how the kids feel, how parents feel [and] how they present themselves,” adds Sanders. “A little thing like laundry makes a huge difference.”