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Jacksonville native starring in new PBS show 'American Anthems'

The episode 'Pocket Change' airs Friday at 10 p.m.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — American Anthems is a new six-part series airing on PBS this summer. Each episode follows different featured artists as they turn a local hero’s story into a powerful anthem.

Friday’s episode will star Jacksonville native, Ashley Ruiz, as she volunteers with the Laundry Project.

“We go to laundromats in low-income parts of town and provide laundry services for the families,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz expanded the project to Jacksonville years ago and has since moved to Nashville where she continues dealing soap and hope.

“I moved to Nashville I wanted to expand my career in health care and when I moved up here obviously laundry project being a big part of my life I wanted to get a program started up here,” Ruiz said.

During the episode, Ruiz shares not just her story as a volunteer but the stories of those who really benefit from their services.

“I’m like it can’t just be about me per se I appreciate that but it’s the stories that are really impactful with the families,” Ruiz said. “Families are really having to struggle between paying bills, putting gas in their cars, and having to choose between food and bills versus putting clean clothes on their kids to go to school.”

Country Singer Lee Brice is the featured artist in the “Pocket Change” episode who creates a powerful anthem at the end after diving headfirst into the Laundry Project.

“He’s so kind and completely jumped in and embraced the laundry project. It was kind of cool to see that celebrity element taken out of the project because I mean he’s still a normal person but you could see how sometimes people could be like oh what’s Lee Brice doing at a laundromat,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz says while she’s grateful to be a part of this series recognition isn’t what she’s wanting.

“I’m hoping that through the show, it kind of takes away the stigma of people that need help from organizations and kind of just inspires people to get out there and do something,” Ruiz said.

Current Initiatives Laundry Project was founded by Jason Sowell more than a decade ago.

Since its inception:

  • Total families served: 22,502
  • Total loads washed: 230,574
  • Total projects: 873
  • Total pounds of laundry: 2,305,740

The project has expanded across 15 states in 53 different cities. To learn how you can get involved in Jacksonville click here.

RELATED: The Laundry Project is offering free laundry services Thursday in Jacksonville

RELATED: Teens learn from the best in unique summer volunteer program at Orange Park hospital

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