Beloit Memorial High School finds success with student run laundry program

BELOIT, Wisc. (WIFR) -- Alexis Haenel is teaching her special education students at Beloit Memorial High School life skills with the help of three washing machines and three dryers.

"My favorite part is just helping other people," says DeEricka Jones. She's one of Haenel's students. A new school day for Jones means a new load.

"I come in the building and start laundry and stuff and start the washing machine," Jones says.

While she enjoys helping people, Jones has no idea that she's actually helping herself. That's because she and 35 other special education students are running a laundry business called Loads to Success. Haenel's students pick up laundry dropped off by their classmates or various sports teams in the school. The loads are scanned, separated, washed, dried, folded and then sent right back out.

"A lot of the young ones, even in regular education, they go out with no experience where as our kids are able to put something down as a skill," says Haenel. "That gives them that little leg up to say, 'Hey, I'm employable."

While the students don't collect any cash for their laundry services, they enjoy helping others anyway.

"This makes me happy, helping other people out," says sophomore Wyatt Walker.

"If you help other people, maybe they will help you back," says senior Tyler Schultz.

Haenel feels Loads to Success is giving her students a sense of pride and responsibility. A lesson she hopes extends beyond the classroom.

Haenel feels proud that one of her students was able to put down laundry skills on her resume when applying for a job. That student now works part-time doing laundry at a Beloit Hotel.

The program is looking for donations to buy detergent, a new washer and dryer, and to be able to take students out as a reward, since they aren't paid for their work.