LA Laundry Truck Provides Free Mobile Laundry For Homeless People

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The Laundry Truck LA brings mobile laundry to the homeless population of Los Angeles.

Source: The LA Laundry Truck

As a longtime LA resident, Jodie Dolan has always been on top of the homelessness crisis in her city. But in 2016, she realized she wanted to do more to tackle homelessness in Los Angeles, where more than 66,000 people are homeless. So Dolan started volunteering on Skid Row; Soon after, she and the DOLAN team began volunteering with The Shower of Hope, which provides free portable showers to LA residents.

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While volunteering, Dolan noticed that people taking portable showers came out with their dirty clothes. “Being in the fashion industry, [I know] how important clean clothes are and what they can do for your self-esteem, ”said Dolan Green business. So she thought, “Let’s do a laundry truck, do mobile laundry, and meet people where they are, so when they shower they can have clean clothes to put on.”

In early 2019, Dolan opened The Laundry Truck LA, which she says is one of the world’s first mobile laundry services for homeless people. And during the pandemic, she opened a second truck (more details below).

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Now, seven days a week, the two trucks roam the streets of Los Angeles, with full staff for the maintenance of trucks and washing machines on board, as well as for laundry. Trucks tour different areas of the city, park near hotels, motels and shelters, offering free laundry services to the homeless.

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“People tell us every day, ‘You helped me regain my dignity and feel like a human,’ ‘People treat me differently because I don’t feel when I go to the grocery store,’ says Dolan. “I mean, it’s pretty poignant. People tell us directly what impact it has, and it’s such a simple thing, but it’s quite powerful.

The non-profit truck is funded by DOLAN Purchases – each DOLAN clothing purchase pays a pound of clean laundry to the mobile truck – as well as donations. In 2020, The Laundry Truck LA’s first full calendar year of service, the truck completed 7,500 loads of laundry.

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The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on DOLAN and The Laundry Truck LA.

Before COVID-19, DOLAN mainly made elegant metallic dresses, flowing blouses and floral skirts. But that all changed in March 2020, when the pandemic struck. The DOLAN team immediately started making face masks, and from there the brand began to pivot in a whole new direction.

Delicate and trendy items have disappeared from the DOLAN website and have been entirely replaced with reusable PPE: scrubs, under-scrubs, scrub caps and face masks. This makes up the bulk of the DOLAN website today, along with a few other casual wear like joggers and bike shorts.

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Many new DOLAN garments are made with an antimicrobial finish, which means wearers can wash them less frequently, saving water. DOLAN is certainly not the most sustainable fashion brand, but the company has a few sustainability initiatives, including using recycled fabrics and producing much (but not all) of its clothing locally at Los Angeles; DOLAN also aims to partner with a recycling company to recycle old DOLAN clothing and dispose of all virgin plastic by 2025.

The Laundry Truck LA wants to step up mobile laundry efforts.

In the future, Dolan hopes to open more mobile laundry trucks to service the Los Angeles area. The truck is also expected to partner with the Los Angeles School District in the fall, to do laundry for homeless children, whom locals often call “the silent minority,” Dolan tells us.

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If you would like to get involved with The Laundry Truck LA, you can visit the truck’s website to sign up to volunteer or donate. And if you or someone you know would like to use the truck’s services, just email hello@thelaundrytruckla.com to find out about the truck’s upcoming locations.

“Last year people were like, ‘What am I doing?’ Dolan says. “It’s like a little act, that you want it, come on [volunteer and] fold clothes, donate or buy something from Dolan. Either way, you really, literally have a direct impact on people’s lives.


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