There's nothing better than a heartwarming story that really hits home here on the SouthCoast.

In a heartwarming display of community spirit, Emerson Gonet, a student at Old Rochester Regional High School, recently spearheaded a book drive to support the United Way's annual Wash & Read donation program. She completed her task with an impressive collection of nearly 1,000 books, contributing significantly to the program's mission of providing free children's books to underserved families.

Established in 2018, Wash & Read has been a beacon of hope for families in need, inspired by national programs such as the Laundry Cares Foundation and the Coin Laundry Association. This selfless project, taken on by Women United, has gathered support from various stakeholders, including laundromat owners and New Bedford Free Public Library.

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Partnering with designated laundromats, the program sets up "reading corners" where children are encouraged to read and dive into these complimentary books while their families tend to laundry at the following locations:

Bush Cleaners – 37 Rockdale Ave., New Bedford
Crossroads Apartments - For residents only
Dartmouth Laundromat - 710 State Road, Dartmouth
EZ Clean Laundromat – 80 Summer St., New Bedford
Friendly Laundry – 2301 Purchase St,. New Bedford
Wash World – 2112 Acushnet Ave., New Bedford
Wash World – 2 Rodney French Blvd., New Bedford
Wash World – 1214 Kempton St., New Bedford
Xpress Laundry - 330 Hathaway Blvd. New Bedford

“We are truly grateful for Emerson’s taking the lead on collecting books for Wash & Read,” said Paula Montgomery, Women United Director for United Way of Greater New Bedford. “Wash & Read is supported and led by volunteers like Emerson. Her efforts will benefit children and families throughout Greater New Bedford.”

Since the program began, 'Wash & Read' has distributed over 5,000 books to children who might otherwise lack access. However, it's important to note that the current need for book donations has been met, thanks to the generosity of donors such as Gonet.

Courtesy Stephanie Pickup
Courtesy Stephanie Pickup

For those interested in learning more about Wash & Read or becoming a partner site, Paula Montgomery, the contact person, can be reached at 508-994-9625 ext. 213 or

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