Methodist Church’s ‘Loads of Love’ Serves Community in Small Yet Powerful Way

By DAVID BIGGY | Jan 31, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy FILL ’ER UP: Pauline McShea (right) talks with Bert Politoski as he dries his laundry during the Manahawkin United Methodist Church ‘Loads of Love’ ministry service time at Magic Wash Laundromat on Jan. 25.

When Bert Politoski first read the calendar item in The SandPaper back in November 2016, he didn’t quite know what to make of it. The listing stated that a local church was offering free laundry service for a couple of hours one evening.

“I was very surprised somebody was doing this,” said Politoski, who along with some 10 others showed up at the Magic Wash Laundromat in Manahawkin on Jan. 25. “The people were very nice, very friendly, and they welcomed me.”

Politoski is just one of hundreds the Manahawkin United Methodist Church’s Loads of Love ministry has served during the past 21 months, providing an evening of free laundry service, regardless of how many bags of laundry he or anybody else brings.

“For economic reasons, it’s a terrific service for people like me,” said the 14-year Army veteran who lives by himself in Little Egg Harbor. “You get your detergent, fabric softener, wash and dry for free. And the second reason I come here is for the fellowship, for the socialization aspect. At other laundromats, you go in and out and nobody talks to you. This is a nice change from something like that.”

And that truly is the crux of Loads of Love – not just to provide a service, free of charge, to those who need it, but offer a time when guests using the facility can just talk to others. Pauline McShea, who oversees the ministry’s operation, said many guests often tell the stories of their struggles and ask for prayer.

“The stories many of them tell us are incredible,” she said. “You have no idea of the need in this area until you do something like this. One woman about a year ago, who saw our announcement in The SandPaper, walked in here and asked, ‘Is this real? Is this really true?’ We said, ‘Yes!’ And as it turned out, she was having a struggle that week and had to decide whether she was going to put gas in the car or wash her and her son’s clothes. Unfortunately, a lot of people are in situations like that, and that’s why we’re here.”

The ministry provides the laundry service once per month – typically the last Thursday of the month, unless it conflicts with a holiday or the church has a specific worship service taking place that evening – and sometimes the facility is full, with people waiting outside for a washer or dryer to become available. Recently, ministry volunteers were there past 10 p.m., to make sure some of the late-comers who had arrived had their need met.

“When we first started this service, I hadn’t been in a laundromat in 30 years,” said Edna Winans, who’s been assisting within the ministry since its inception. “I had no idea how much it costs to do your laundry. But we arrived here and found out how much it costs, and we realized how important this mission was for people. We realized we were doing something worthwhile.”

That first night, Winans said, the ministry spent about $75 to help those who showed up to the laundromat. Nowadays, the ministry spends well over $200 per night. According to a newsletter Winans creates and circulates at the church each month, Loads of Love utilized $231.25 to serve others in December, right after Christmas.

Not bad for a congregation whose pastor, Kyewoon Choi, got the idea from another pastor he knew at the United Methodist church in Pemberton.

“A friend of mine told me about it and I said, ‘Wow, that’s great. I’d like to do that here in Manahawkin,’ and he invited me to come over one night and see what they did,” said Choi, who took several people from the church, including McShea, for a “field trip” to witness, first-hand, exactly what the other church was doing. “I told them we were going to start a new ministry and I wanted them to see how it works. I took three ladies with me and one of them almost fainted, because of the smell inside the laundromat.”

Choi, who joins the ministry team each month as it helps others, said he is grateful his church gets the opportunity to serve the community, and the biggest thing he’s learned from the experience is that even a small service can provide a lot for so many.

“It humbles me,” he said. “And the amazing thing is, we don’t have funds set aside for this. Every month, we take a collection for it and God provides what we need through our congregation. We spend between $200 and $250 per month now. And, miraculously, God always makes sure we have what we need to serve the community.”

Sometimes, those donations come from outside the church. McShea, Winans and Choi each mentioned one instance when a $250 check arrived in the mail because somebody read the calendar item in that local paper.

“That was incredible,” McShea said. “We were getting more people coming for our service and we started wondering how much we were going to be spending, and then bam! Here comes a check for $250. That’s the way this whole thing works. It’s awesome and we love doing it.”

Loads of Love is next scheduled for service from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22. Additionally, it will be serving at the Magic Wash on March 22, April 26, May 31, June 28, July 26, Aug. 30, Sept. 27, Oct. 25, Nov. 29 and Dec. 27. For more information about Loads of Love, or to help out in some way, visit manahawkinmethodist.org or call 609-597-7666.

biggy@thesandpaper.net

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.