Donated appliances aid families leaving shelters

Parents struggling to get out of local shelters got a boost Thursday when Charlotte-based Electrolux donated more than $100,000 in washers and dryers to charities working to rehouse families.

The appliances will be used by nonprofits such as the Salvation Army Center of Hope, which has two programs focused on getting homeless women with children into apartments with the help of job training and limited rental subsidies.

Few of those apartments have appliances, adding to the challenges faced by the women, who are often working mothers and college students.

Katempres Johns, 25, moved out of the Salvation Army’s shelter for women and children in March and into one of the agency’s housing programs. She is a mother of two, ages 11 months and 5 years, and has a job. Johns also recently took on raising her 15-year-old brother.

“I have no washer and dryer, and I have about six loads of clothes a week to do, not including linens. That’s two or three hours a week spent at the laundromat,” said Johns, who will get an Electrolux washer and dryer for her apartment.

“I’m so grateful for this because it means I can give baths to my children, cook meals and clean while I’m washing clothes – and no more hunting for quarters.”

The appliances will also help programs such as the Crisis Assistance Ministry Furniture Bank, which offers free furniture for families leaving shelters and moving into housing.

Crisis Assistance officials said the Furniture Bank currently has client requests for 44 washers but has only been able to provide seven. In the past fiscal year, the bank had 223 requests for washers and was only able to provide 113. “Washers and dryers are tough to get donated because people hold on to them until they don’t work anymore,” said Tovi Martin of Crisis Assistance Ministry.

The nonprofits Ada Jenkins Center and Florence Crittenton Services will also share in the washers and dryers donated on Thursday.

Electrolux has given hundreds of thousands of dollars in appliances to local needy families since moving its North American headquarters to Charlotte in 2010.

However, in this most recent donation, the appliance manufacturer stipulated the appliances will stay with the charities after needy families graduate from shelter programs.

That will allow countless other families to benefit in the future, said Leslie McCray, a spokeswoman for Electrolux.

In addition to the appliances, Electrolux staff collected barrels of laundry detergent for the families at a recent Charlotte Knights game, she said.

“Charlotte is working toward more affordable housing for struggling families, and we as a company realize this is where we can play a role,” McCray said.

“Many of these are single moms, working and going to school, while raising children. And they’re often taking the bus. They have enough challenges, so this is one way to make life easier.”