PRIOR LAKE, Minn. — Each Christmas, generous donors give “gently used” blankets to the local charitable organization called Bridging for distribution to local families, and approximately 8,000 blankets were donated this past holiday season through the annual Bring a Blanket drive co-sponsored by Subway Restaurants.
Of those, about 1,000 were slightly soiled and in need of washing, so Bridging turned to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Laundry Facility, which washed, dried and hand-folded them at no charge.
“Everybody that lives in Minnesota needs a blanket. We don’t have any type of facilities to launder them,” says Bridging Operations Manager Jim Elfering. “If we didn’t have this resource, these blankets wouldn’t be going to people’s homes.”
The SMSC and its Gaming Enterprise, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino have partnered with Bridging for years, providing linens, towels, bathmats, tables, chairs, ironing boards, pillows, bed frames, couches, lamps, dishware, and more than 115 sets of mattresses and box springs.
For the past eight years, the SMSC has donated as many as 1,200 king- and queen-sized sheets and pillowcases to Bridging annually. Several times a year, Bridging drops off large loads of linens that the SMSC Laundry washes for free.
“About 5,000 families are served by us [Bridging] every year,” Elfering says. “That’s close to 15,000 people who need basic furniture, beds, linens, etc. The donations and the laundry services provided by the Shakopee Mdewakanton really make a huge impact on lives.”
Bridging’s mission is to provide the economically disadvantaged with a one-time gift of quality furniture and household items, which helps to stabilize and improve their lives while effectively using community resources. Through a network of more than 160 social-service agencies, eligible clients are referred to the Bridging warehouse for a once-in-a-lifetime shopping experience.
The SMSC Laundry, which employs 51 people, laundered 3.5 million pounds of goods last year for several SMSC enterprises, including its hotel, casino, Dakotah! Sport and Fitness, and more. It also launders 540,000 employee uniforms annually.