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Roanoke City Schools adds washers and dryers to schools for students in need

Not having clean clothes linked to students’ attendance and success at school

ROANOKE, Va. – Throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen how school is more than a building for learning, it can be a resource for internet, food and more.

In Roanoke, now students at city schools will also be able to do their laundry.

Laundry seems like just a simple task on a to-do list but it can be a heavy load for students in Roanoke who are going through homelessness.

Malora Horn works with many of those students and their families as the homeless student coordinator for Roanoke City Public Schools.

“We’re getting close to having 500 students for this year which to me is amazing even during this time, the pandemic, when a lot of people haven’t been moving so much there has been a moratorium on evictions but once that’s lifted there’s going to be lots more movement,” said Horn.

Horn said when kids move due to an eviction or lack of housing it’s not always within the district, they may lose items along the way or just don’t have access to their belongings.

When the Roanoke Bar Association came to the school district with the money to help, the idea came to close the gap by adding washers and dryers to school buildings and replace the laundry machines that are already in some schools.

“If children don’t have clean clothing and they don’t have those resources they’re not going to come to school. That’s something that’s very difficult for any student I think especially when you get into middle and high school,” Horn said.

So far, the school has been able to place 16 washers and dryers into schools. The goal is to have a set at every school in the district.

Two machines were recently delivered to Patrick Henry High School where counselor Kevonne Fields sees a great need.

“This is an opportunity to empower our students to feel like this is something that will help them be successful being in school,” said Fields.

Adding these machines are not just for homeless students to use, it’s also for those who may not be as vocal about their needs.

“They’re going to hear about it, hopefully someone else will hear about it and share it with them and that’s another way that they’ll have another resource to remove a barrier that might prevent that regular attendance,” said Horn.

With every load, Fields hopes students will know how much the community truly cares about their success.

“We can now provide them one more thing to just say, ‘This is not a reason you shouldn’t be in school, this is a reason you should’” said Fields.

If you would like to donate money, laundry detergent, school supplies and other items to help Roanoke students experiencing homelessness, click here.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.