Every year on Nov. 11, parades are seen marching down city streets, orchestras and bands are heard playing God Bless America and, since 2003, active-duty military personnel and veterans receive free carwashes all around the country. These complimentary washes are largely thanks to the impressive organizational efforts of Grace For Vets, a veteran-founded organization that seeks to honor those who currently serve or have served in the U.S. military.
In 2003, carwash owner and operator Mike Mountz wanted to show his appreciation to his fellow servicemen and servicewomen on Veteran’s Day. This desire is what drove his idea for Grace For Vets — to honor those who have served their country by providing free carwashing on Nov. 11. On Veteran’s Day 2003, Mike’s single carwash business was able to provide 222 free washes to veterans. Fast forward 17 years, 363,000 carwashes were gifted internationally from thousands of carwash businesses on Veteran’s Day 2020. This spike in participation over the years was due to the diligent efforts of the Grace For Vets team.
While Mike Mountz, the original organizer of the operation, is no longer manning the Grace For Vets ship, in 2012, CEO of Splash Car Washes Mark Curtis took over as the head organizer and officially partnered with International Carwash Association (ICA). Regarding the growing success of the annual charity event, Curtis isn’t surprised by the generosity of his fellow carwashing professionals.
“Generally, I think we’re a very philanthropic, caring industry. I don’t think I’ve met a carwasher that hasn’t been involved in one form of charity [or another],” he said in a recent interview with Carwash.com. Besides the obvious good that this Veteran’s Day charity does for servicemen and servicewomen, carwashes benefit in other ways when they partner with Grace for Vets. Curtis reported that the event is, simply put, fun for employees. Seeing the genuine reaction and appreciation from veterans is amazing and fulfilling for carwash employees to witness. Plus, engaging in a charity like Grace For Vets builds goodwill with the community — people like to see that a business is giving back.
Regarding marketing efforts for the nation-wide event, Curtis says its 1,600 partners can promote their Veteran’s Day carwash special as much or as little as they see fit. However, Curtis thinks promoting the event can help boost business after Veteran’s Day. “Everyone going by you on the street is going to recognize your carwash as special, as doing something good for the community … doing something good for veterans,” he said about one carwash that marketed the event with large banners outside their business.
Veteran’s Day is on Thursday, Nov. 11 this year. There is still time to register to be a part of the international event this year and help Grace For Vets honor your local veterans.