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Whirlpool helps Payette students look their best for picture day

Payette Primary School families have benefited from the Care Counts™ laundry program by Whirlpool brand.

a young boy wears a black hat, a great vest, a dark grey shirt, and a bow tie.

June 22, 2022

Picture day was approaching this spring at Payette Primary School in rural Idaho, and Principal Kipp McKenzie wanted to make sure all of his students looked their best.

But a significant number of the 430 students at the high-poverty school come from homes without washers and dryers, and several showed up with stained shirts and blouses.

No problem. Thanks to a special program from Whirlpool, McKenzie’s school had recently installed a washer and dryer. Students who needed their clothes washed before having their pictures taken borrowed items from the school’s clothes closet.

School staff took the stained shirts and blouses, washed and dried them using the supply of detergent donated by Whirlpool, and returned them to the students before it was their turn to be photographed.

Since the washer and dryer arrived over Christmas break, Payette Primary School families have benefited from the Care Counts™ laundry program by Whirlpool brand. A Teach For America special education teacher at the school heard about the program and connected McKenzie with Whirlpool brand. The school submitted an application and was chosen as one of ten new school recipients for this past school year.

Payette Primary received more than just a top-of-the-line washer and dryer. Whirlpool also provided detergent, stain remover, and dryer sheets for a year, and a $10,000 grant for the school to use as needed.

“This is a really great program  from Whirlpool,” McKenize said recently. “We have a lot of need. About 80 percent of our kids come from families living in poverty. A lot of them live in trailers and don’t have washer and dryer hookups.”

Once the equipment was installed over the holiday break, McKenzie and his staff started reaching out to parents, offering them the opportunity to bring their family laundry to the school. Initially, parents seemed reluctant to participate.

“Parents just weren’t responding, and I got a little discouraged,” McKenzie said.

Then a second-grade teacher came to McKenzie with an idea. She said kids had been playing outside on a muddy day and their coats had gotten filthy. She offered to wash the coats and the students eagerly accepted.

“It just kind of spiraled from there,” McKenzie said. “We washed probably 50 coats and hoodies over the next couple of days.”

All the clean coats, combined with the picture day laundering, caught parents’ attention. “Maybe a month and a half went by and we started getting moms showing up with loads of laundry,” McKenzie said. “A few have come back several times.”

McKenzie said he expects the washer and dryer to keep paying dividends for many years to come.

“I’m really glad Whirlpool chose us. It has been one of the positive things to come out of a couple of pretty challenging years.”

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