‘This is needed right now;’ Local church opens showers, laundry service to homeless

Updated: Apr. 5, 2020 at 5:00 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, River City Church has installed a portable shower and laundry trailer available for use to the homeless population in Montgomery.

Sunday morning was the first day the “Clean Machine” trailer was opened for use. From now on the services will be available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Users are allowed to wash one load of laundry per day. To minimize the spread of germs, clothes will be washed by a volunteer while clients take a shower. A fresh towel, soap, and washcloth will be be provided.

Missions and Outreach Director Patrick Aitken said good hygiene for the homeless population is essential in keeping COVID-19 under control.

“We’re encouraged to wash our hands for 20 seconds multiple times a day, but what about the individual that’s sleeping out on the streets that have no access to wash their hands more or less there clothes or even there whole body,” said Aitken. “God has been good by providing this to us and we are gonna make the most use out of it that we can.”

With several other facilities closed and not offering their regular shower and washing machine services, the church felt that now this was needed more than ever before.

“We’ve heard that there are some places that are limiting the showering capabilities and hygiene capabilities because of fear of the virus,” said River City Church Senior Pastor Justin Todd.

“All of them are living out in the woods or under awnings and things like that, and so I feel like this will help out a good bit,” said Todd.

After each use, the showers will be disinfected with bleach by a volunteer to minimize the spread of germs.

River City Church is in need of volunteers to help run the shower and laundry services. Each shift would be two to three hours long.

If you are interested in volunteering you can email

River City Church is located at 301 Dexter Ave.

Other organizations across the city are also stepping up to help prevent the coronavirus from spreading amongst Montgomery’s homeless population.

The Salvation Army is still serving warms meals to those in need, but instead of allowing guests inside, they are being served to-go trays to minimize gathering as a group.

“Just to keep it safe for our staff as well as those that we serve, we are doing to-go trays," said Salvation Army Core Officer Lt. Bryan Farrington. "They can still get their needs met, it’s just reducing the fellowship, for safety reasons.”

For the time being, they are also not allowing people to use their mini-market on site to shop for food items, but are instead packing the groceries for people and handing them out.

The Friendship Mission is also handing out to-go trays at their soup kitchen. The only problem they are now facing is that they usually serve dinner at five o'clock which is right when the state's new stay at home order goes into effect. The organization has found a way to still serve under the new restriction.

“Someone who picks up a meal will also get this little sheet of paper to show to an officer to say I just received a meal and I’m on my way home," said Friendship Mission Executive Director Tara Davis. "We don't want them out on the street worrying because it's 5 o'clock and they are hungry. Get your meal, go home, here is your proof that you picked up a meal from Friendship Mission."

The shelters inside have also ramped up on sanitary precautions, wiping down surfaces more frequently, and disinfecting. They said what they need now is more donations and hygiene kits to keep the homeless from getting sick.

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