A penny a gallon goes a long way


Novato kindergarteners at Olive Elementary learn about the Nutcracker from music teacher Lucy Wheeler.

"My main objective is to bring the joy I that I have inside for music and share it with the kids," says Wheeler.

But a kindergarten music class would not be possible if it depended on state and district funding alone. It exists thanks to the School Fuel Foundation which gets funding from a variety of sources, including Matt and Jeff's Carwash.

"It's given just a little bit of cushion to protect us locally from things that are going on in Sacramento," says Susan Matthews, executive director of School Fuel.

Since it started selling gas in 2003, the carwash has given 1-cent per gallon to the schools. Those pennies have now added up to about $90,000.

"If you believe that there's a value in school and there's a value in having kids that participate in music P.E. and things like that, then instead of talking about it, take the initiative to make something happen," says Jeff Coplin of Matt and Jeff's Carwash.

Owners Matt Broderick and Jeff Coplin have been friends since they were three. Rather than write a one-time check five years ago, they decided to contribute to the schools every day with the penny per gallon plan.

Matthews says every student has benefitted in some way.

"This year we've been able to add some money for implementing a brand new science curriculum, really exciting for the kids K-12. It's a lot more hands-on," says Matthews.

In addition to kindergarten music, fifth-graders get the benefit of choice -- choir, woodwinds or brass.

We asked 10-year-old Tess O'Brien if she thought about taking the other music classes. "Not at all. I just knew that choir was the one I wanted," says Tess. "It is so important I would probably cry my eyes out if I couldn't.".

"Man, I tell you it just re-energizes you when you get involved with kids and they come to life with their eyes wide open every morning going, 'Let's go to the playground.' Man, life is for the living," says Coplin.

ABC7 salutes Matt and Jeff's Carwash and all their customers who have helped the Novato schools.

Related link: www.mattandjeffscarwash.com

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