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Cleaning cars for a cause

October 1, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — Michigan City’s police and fire departments, school district and other volunteers joined forces to raise thousands of dollars for the United Way of La Porte County on Friday.

The Unified Car Wash has been a collaboration of the three entities for the past four years, begun after several years of them competing from separate locations to see which group could raise the most money.

“It’s a lot of fun to be together and to raise money as a coordinated effort,” said Sherri Silcox, program coordinator for Michigan City Area Schools’ Safe Harbor program.

“And (the fundraiser) helps support so many of the programs that the United Way has for our families, and for our school system to be able to support the families and the kids.”

Silcox worked Friday selling mums and pumpkins and passing out treat bags to the children who came through the car wash line.

Asst. Police Chief Royce Williams manned the grill making burgers and hot dogs for anyone who wanted to stay for lunch.

Police Chief Mark Swistek washed cars alongside local high school students.

Fire Chief Randy Novak and his crew used a fire engine and hoses to rinse the vehicles.

And City Council President Don Przybylinski and some other city employees used leaf blowers to dry them.

“This year,” Swistek said, “we have the fire science and the criminal justice students from the A.K. Smith Career Center, and it’s very important that they learn what community spirit’s all about. I think the students are learning a lot today about volunteerism, and hopefully, they’ll carry this on into their adult lives.”

He said supporting the United Way is important because, in addition to educational and youth-focused organizations, it provides funding for organizations like the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, homeless shelters and food pantries.

Novak said, “The United Way is absolutely one of the most valuable assets to the community, like police and fire and emergency services and EMS.

“Kind of like 911, they’ve got 211, which you call when somebody’s in danger of having their power turned off or some other emergency like that, and they’ll tell you where to get help. So many fantastic things they do for La Porte County, so we’re just giving them a little payback.”

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