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Dry cleaners help make Christmas wishes come true for kids
Lathrop Cleaners owners Craig, left, and wife Evelyn are shown with their business manager Alfredo Sandoval. The three single-handedly laundered and dry-cleaned the hundreds of donated clothing that will be distributed during a “shopping spree” Thursday for Lathrop Elementary students. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

LATHROP – Craig and Evelyn Moser thought they were going to help launder and dry-clean a few pieces of children’s clothes for the Christmas Wishes project.

What they got was a mountain – a pile of some 20 large trash bags full of clothes, with each bag containing between a dozen and perhaps up to 18 pieces of children’s clothing.

“Some of them with the little kids’ clothes have as many as 20 (pieces). There’s a lot; it was a lot,” Evelyn Moser said of the clothes that they have been laundering and dry-cleaning for Christmas Wishes.

That’s a project that has its genesis back in October when Lathrop Elementary School partnered with the Sheriff’s Department and Lathrop Police Services in a project called “Stuff the Police Car.” On the day of giving, Lathrop Elementary students brought clothing donations which they then “stuffed” inside an old police car that was brought to the school site by representatives of the Sheriff’s Department. The donations were made by Lathrop students for children and school mates.

Enter the Mosers, owners of Lathrop Cleaners located in the Louise Plaza neighborhood shopping center on the northwest corner of Louise Avenue and Harlan Road.

Lathrop Cleaners offered to do the laundering for us. A truck-load of clothes – several large bags – was taken over last week. We already received half of the clothes back,” said Lathrop Elementary Principal David Silveira on Monday.

The school’s leadership students will pick up the rest of the laundered and dry-cleaned clothing on Wednesday, he said.

“Once the clothing is brought back to the site, leadership will sort the clothing for distribution on Thursday afternoon. Students who are in need of clothing will be released from class to go shopping for free,” Silveira explained.

In addition to the “shopping spree,” some students at this event called “Christmas Wishes” also will be presented “new gifts” from the Parent Teacher Club. They will be assisted by Santa.

The Mosers did all the laundry work with some help from their business manager, Alfredo Sandoval.

“All of it was laundered items. There were very few dry cleaners,” Evelyn Moser said of the type of laundry work that the donated clothing needed.

They had two weeks to get the whole mountain of clothing done. They managed to do it by working on weekends and in between the jobs that they do for their clients. Lathrop Cleaners, which opened its doors in June of 2006 next to Mountain Mike’s Pizza, is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They do all the work on site. After business hours, clients can leave their clothing items in a drop box next to the front door.

“We don’t normally clean on the weekends, so we do a lot of it on Saturday. And you work an hour or so than you normally do. Everybody pitched in,” Evelyn Moser said explaining how they cleaned the roughly 250 to 400 pieces of donated children’s clothing.

When they were contacted by the principal about helping with this Christmas Wishes project, the Mosers did not have any idea as to how many clothes they committed themselves to clean. One thing for sure, they did not expect to see nearly two-dozen large bulging bags. Recalling their initial reaction at the volume of clothing that were being dropped off, Evelyn Moser recalled simply saying, “Oh, my. That’s a lot.”

But, she said, “we want to help out the community when we can.”

In fact, said Evelyn Moser, if the school decides to do the same project again next year, they would like to continue their involvement in this philanthropic project.

“Yeah, we’ll do it again. If it helps out the community and the children, it’s worth it,” she said.