We’ve all heard the whispers through the halls: “Why is she wearing those clothes?” “Why does he dress like that?” The first day of school can be daunting for any student, but for at-risk and low-income students the pressure to fit in can be all the more difficult.
While most students show up in shiny new clothes and brand new backpacks, others have no choice but to wear unclean and unkempt hand-me-downs. The reality is that some students come from struggling — even homeless — families who have to prioritize putting food on the table before putting clothes in the washer.
The shame and embarrassment of their appearance is enough to cause many of these disadvantaged kids to miss school or drop out altogether.
Whirlpool has found a simple solution — laundry detergent, to be exact.
With back-to-school season in full force, schools across the country are putting an end to absenteeism by installing free washing machines. Why? Some students are simply too afraid to walk the halls in unclean clothes, causing chronic absenteeism (missing 10 percent or more of the school year).
"People don’t talk about not having clean clothes because it makes you want to cry or go home or run away or something," said Logan, an eighth-grade student. "It doesn’t feel good.”
Through its Care Counts program, Whirlpool has successfully helped underprivileged students who miss school due to dirty clothes keep a clean attendance record. During the program’s first school year back in 2015, 93% of participating students increased their attendance rates after receiving an average of 50 loads of laundry. Furthermore, the students most at risk of dropping out averaged an additional 2 weeks of attendance than their previous records.
Who knew that clean clothes could mean a clean attendance record? When simply given the opportunity to wash their clothes for free, students are eradicating dirt and truancy at the same time. As the 2016-2017 school year begins, Whirlpool plans to double the number of students it helps compared to last year.
Hopefully students continue to break the cycle of poverty — one wash cycle at a time.
Check out the video below for the real-life stories of students who have benefited from the Care Counts program.
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