Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wash For Life

Coming September 16th to a Parking Lot Near You…
By Holly Smith

Whether raising money for marching bands, sports teams, youth groups or drama productions, car washes as youth fundraisers have become as American as apple pie. A group of six students and new graduates from Thomas Aquinas College in Ojai, California, are taking the idea to a higher level… a much higher level.

Meet “Wash for Life,” a national effort to raise funds and awareness for local pregnancy care centers by enlisting youth to operate simultaneous car washes in their own areas to benefit their own local pregnancy centers on September 16, 2006. With a goal of 2000 car washes nationwide to raise $1 million for pregnancy centers, “the Wash for Life will allow [youth] to do something to help their community directly by supporting their local crisis pregnancy center [CPC],” explained Jonathan Tonkowich, executive director of Wash for Life.

“It will also allow communities to see that the youth of America are pro-life and willing to stand up to help women and children in need, especially since many of the women with unplanned pregnancies are their peers,” he said. “It will also help youth know more about CPCs and what they do and how they can help people.”

The simplicity of operating a car wash is definitely one of this program’s biggest assets. They are easy to organize. They can be run just by finding a willing gas station, grocery store, school or church parking lot in a high traffic area. Add a bunch of young people, like a teens for life club, youth group or group of friends that are pro-life, and the task of coordinating the car wash doesn’t seem too daunting.

In fact, if it does seem overwhelming, visit the “Tips for Running a Car Wash” link at for guidelines to follow to maximize funds raised and fun for the volunteers and minimize opportunities to re-invent the wheel.

Participating in a program close to home also makes planning easier. As organizer John Cunningham pointed out, “One of the benefits of the Wash for Life is that those who participate do not have to travel. You can be part of a nationwide event without leaving your hometown.”

The bookkeeping is the easiest part. “The money stays local. 100% of the funds raised by each car wash go to the pregnancy care center in its own community,” Cunningham explained. “A group might arrange with the [pregnancy care center] to buy a certain piece of equipment, or they might want to have a formal ceremony; or they can simply put the money in an envelope and hand it over. They will tell us how much they raised, but the [CPC] gets all of it. We are, however, accepting donations to pay organization and living expenses for the team while we work on this project. This is entirely separate from the money being raised on September 16.”

Be sure to visit and register on the website if you plan to hold a car wash, or if you are interested in having your car washed or making a donation to the organization. That way, the Wash for Life team can direct people to your wash and track the effort and amount of total money raised for CPCs.

Whether you are young or old, a car washer or a customer, this is a pro-life event we can all participate in. “One of our main goals is to help our fellow youth become active in the pro-life movement,” Cunningham said. “Most of America's young people believe that abortion is wrong and that the women who are threatened by it should be helped; sometimes all it takes is a project like this to inspire them with their own ideas. “

“Our send-off message to those who participate on September 16,” he concluded, “will be to use the enthusiasm it generates to find other ways to spread the culture of life.”

Raising resources and advertising for local CPCs, getting young people involved in the pro-life movement, showing the public face of the right-to-life movement as young, engaged and eager to help, and a community of clean cars—why wouldn’t you do a Wash for Life?!

“Our send-off message to those who participate on September 16 will be to use the enthusiasm it generates to find other ways to spread the culture of life.” – Wash for Life Team member John Cunningham

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