One principal refused to fold.
When Dr. Melody Gunn, the former principal of Gibson Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri noticed that some students were missing school because they did not have clean clothes to wear, she decided something had to be done.
People don’t talk about not having clean clothes because it makes you want to cry or go home or run away or something
“We don’t want a student not coming to school because their clothes aren’t clean,” Gunn told FOXBusiness.com.
According to the outlet, Gunn did some informal research and visited the homes of kids that were not attending school. She found out that many of these kids came from low-income homes and their parents did laundry at friends’ homes or at a laundromat. If money was tight, the laundry wouldn’t get done at all.
“We have a washer and dryer at home,” Vanessa, a fourth-graded enrolled in the program said in Whirlpool’s video. “It’s just that our electricity was shut off.”
And the ramifications could be devastating.
“People don’t talk about not having clean clothes because it makes you want to cry or go home or run away or something,” Logan, a sixth-grade student said in a video by Whirlpool.
Gunn decided to reach out to Whirlpool and asked if they could donate a washer and dryer to her school.
The company, curious as to whether Gunn’s situation was an isolated incident, decided to survey 600 public school teachers around the country and discovered that nearly one in five students in the schools surveyed did not have access to clean clothing, according to a press release from Whirlpool.
The company provided Gibson Elementary and 11 other schools with washers and dryers through a program called Care Counts.
At each school, principals enlist a teacher, administrator or parent to act as a program leader. The leader helps identify students for the program and anonymously tracks their loads of laundry, attendance and grades throughout the school year. The process of laundering student clothes varies, but at some of the schools, parents sign up for time slots to do their laundry at the school through out the week.
One year and 2,321 loads of laundry after Care Counts started, 93 percent of students who participated in the program improved their attendance, according to Whirlpool.
The company also told HuffPost that 95 percent of participants also showed increased motivation in class, were more likely to participate in extracurricular activities and began interacting with peers. Due to the increased attendance, 89 percent of the kids in the program also got good grades.
“One of my students had just sort of withdrawn from school completely,” Alison Guernsey, a seventh grade English teacher at David Weir Preparatory Academy in Fairfield, California, told Today. “After we started the program, he was more excited about coming, and he started to be actively engaged in class. He didn’t feel like an outsider anymore.”
Whirlpool plans to add machines to 30 more schools in the next year.
“This program has made a difference,” Martha Lacy, principal at David Weir Preparatory Academy told Today. “And if we can make a positive difference with even one student, it’s worth it.”