Fund-raisers cleaning up

MONDAY, AUG. 9, 2004

In Spokane Valley, when the air you inhale is hotter than what you exhale and the Sprague Avenue asphalt swelters like a state fair midway, teenagers holler from the curbs at passing motorists like carnival barkers.

“Carwash. Carwash over here. Hey mister, your car’s dirty. Hey mister. Carwash …”

Just kids making their adolescent lives better, one bucket of soap at a time. So many that host businesses along the busy strip keep appointment calendars so the various groups looking for parking lots to wash in don’t get their hoses crossed.

“We have reservations into September,” said Brian Bishop, of Petco. The pet store at Sullivan and Sprague is carwash central. “Basically, if it’s for something charitable, we allow it. We just tell them to bring a lot of hose because it’s a long way to the spigot.”

Kids wash cars to raise money for friends with progressive illnesses. They wash for baseball uniforms and soccer camps and social causes adults seldom think about. The Friday before last was Miranda Mayfield’s turn. The 16-year-old Greenacres girl manned the hoses, while her younger siblings raced up and down the street hustling customers. They were on a mission.

Mayfield needed $421 to cover her costs for a trip to Mexico with the kids of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Not a pleasure trip. The kids spend a week building concrete-block houses for the poor in the Tijuana suburbs. It’s backbreaking work without power tools, or running water, or so much as a cement mixer to churn the grout.

As the customers pulled in for a $5 or $10 wash, the determined girl with maroon-colored hair approached the driver’s side windows to explain where their money was going. The trip south of the border surprised a few, but they were more taken by her departure date, Aug. 8.

The trip had been in the works for eight months, but in classic teenager fashion, Mayfield waited until 10 days before her trip to get out the bucket and soap. Actually, she waited until about 12 days before her trip, then asked her mother, Anita Mayfield, if she could spare $400. Anita got out the soap and bucket.

“She did the work. I’m proud of her,” Anita said of her daughter.

Mayfield raised the money she needed, minus hamburgers for her crew of hungry volunteers, in three days. She brought her earnings to the St. Mary’s youth minister on the day he was giving her spot to someone else. Most of the money was in small bills and coins.

“I encourage the kids to raise their own money. She just organized it all by herself,” said Eric Thomason, youth minister. “She isn’t even a member of our church. She came to our youth group with a friend and decided to go to Mexico with us.”

It was amazing how quickly her fortunes changed by standing on the street corner with a little soap and water, Mayfield said. In the days leading up to the car wash, she tried going door to door for donations in her neighborhood with mixed results. She stood in the lobby of Yoke’s Fresh Market on Montgomery Avenue and Argonne Road, but received only cold stares.

“It’s so much work. It’s exhausting being out in the heat and you want the cars to be so clean. People want you to do a good job, but they want you to hurry,” Mayfield said. “My crew thought it was going to be fun. That lasted until 12:30 and then they wanted to go home. But everybody worked together. It was worth it.”


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