Northwest Elementary School has begun developing a laundry program for use by its students.

Northwest, at 1315 Old Forge Road, serves about 650 students within Lebanon School District. In a phone interview with LebTown, Northwest community coordinator Glenda Folsom explained that the purpose of program goes beyond the practical convenience of washing clothes.

“It’s not about cleanliness, it’s more about engagement and providing something,” Folsom explained.

Programs pioneered elsewhere in the country have seen reduced absenteeism, improved student confidence, and family engagement. These programs have been covered by the New York Times and Teach For America, among others, and organizers at Northwest are studying these programs with the hopes of reaching similar outcomes in their own school.

The program has rapidly begun to come together in a matter of weeks, thanks in large part to a donation by Majik Rent-to-Own, a furniture and appliance rental company.

Folsom, assistant principal Jennifer Nordall, and other faculty members were inspired to develop a laundry program at Northwest after an office conversation. After a weekend of research into existing laundry programs, the program began to seem like a real possibility.

“We were thinking the hardest part of it would be getting the washer and dryer units,” Folsom said. She began calling retailers and quickly found a donor at Majik, which is based in Lancaster and operates a store at 701 Cumberland St. in Lebanon.

Staff from Northwest Elementary School and Majik Rent-to-Own pause for a picture following the rental company’s delivery of a donated washer and dryer for the school’s experimental laundry program.

Within 48 hours of contact, Majik agreed to donate a washer and dryer, which were delivered to the school on March 25.

“It’s just incredible how open and generous they’ve been,” Folsom said. “We didn’t think this idea would come to fruition for months.”

According to Folsom, the school in in the process of installing the machines and plans for the program to be up and running by the end of the school year. The day-to-day logistics of the program are still being developed, though one possible idea involves sign-up time slots for use of the machines.

Once the program begins, Northwest will need to sustain it through donations. The school is currently seeking donors interested in providing supplies such as dye- and fragrance-free laundry detergents.

Organizations and individuals interested in helping the program get off the ground with donated supplies are encouraged to contact Folsom at (717) 270-6800, ext. 5519.

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Joshua Groh

Josh is a Cornwall native and freelancer with a love of local history and the outdoors.