Lather up! Hosting car washes is a tradition in Long Beach
Most Sundays, a line of dirty cars waits to visit Glenn E. Thomas Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram. Out by the service department, scores of school-aged volunteers armed with buckets, sponges and chamois clean each vehicle.
Almost every weekend for the past two decades, the dealership has hosted a charity car wash for local school and college groups from the Long Beach, Calif., area.
Dealership President Bob Davis estimates that the car washes have poured at least $250,000 into the coffers of local student groups, who sell $5 tickets for their weekend events. The dealership prints the tickets and supplies the water, soap and chamois, and even the soft drinks. The students supply the elbow grease, the customers and the fun.
"It's been very well received by the community, to the point that groups schedule their washes four or six months in advance," said Davis, who began working at what was then his father's dealership in 1974. The dealership, which dates back to 1909, sells about 1,500 new and 480 used vehicles a year.
"It's been nice for us, too," Davis said. "Now you run into people who are adults and who say they remember doing the car wash at the dealership when they were in school."
The dealership's sales operations are open on Sundays, but not the service department. Davis said that when the charity car washes started in the early 1990s, they were on Saturdays. "But it kind of crowded out the service department, frankly," Davis said, necessitating the move to Sundays.
Terry Speir, director of activities at nearby Long Beach Polytechnic High School, said students and their families appreciate the dealership's commitment to helping student groups.
"It's an awesome opportunity for our kids," Speir said. "They give us 300 tickets that are printed up for us, and each student is supposed to sell their tickets. It's a great deal. We can't think of a better fundraiser for as little work as the kids have to do."
You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at email@example.com.