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New Jersey High School Installs Free Laundromat for Students in Need

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Two years ago, 85% of the students at West Side High School were missing class due to embarrassment over dirty clothing. This school’s new laundromat facility is providing a free resource to families in need — and draws attention to the help many still require. Join us in taking action here.

A principal in New Jersey is being lauded for giving his students a fresh lease on academic life.

After observing a high percentage of the school’s population missing class, as well as social media posts bullying some students for the state of their clothing, Principal Akbar Cook of West Side High School in Newark had a laundromat installed on the property to offer those in need a way of cleaning their belongings, reported CNN.

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"These are kids, good kids who want to learn, that are missing three to five days a month because they were being bullied because they were dirty," Cook explained to CNN. "I even changed the school uniform to darker colors so they could go more days without cleaning them, but even with that, students were struggling to have them look clean enough to attend."

Cook applied two years ago for a grant from a foundation associated with one of Newark's main utility companies, PSE&G, according to the report. He has since won $20,000 to transform an old football locker room into the school laundry facility, which will be open to students beginning on Sept. 4.

The room has five washers, five dryers, and an inventory of various detergents donated from across the country through the school’s Amazon wish list page.

The school’s social worker, Jamila Hammond, told CNN that having the facility on campus will be a game-changer for students who have had the desire to learn but felt ashamed of their clothing.

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"Many times the students [have] come in because they're embarrassed, they don't look the same, somebody's complaining about a body odor,” Daniel said. “I would say, 'OK, baby, then we're going to have to do it the old way.' We have soap, we have water. But now with this laundry room we don't have to do that."

The laundromat will be open to students free of charge between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. every day that school is in session.