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MERIDIAN --Next week for many students, is the start of the pay-to-play program in the Meridian School District.

Some parents have already said they won't be able to pay the fee for their kids to participate in sports. But one team is using an old solution to solve this new problem.

For any family right now, $110 is a pretty decent-sized fee, but the freshman football team is trying to help cover the cost by turning the pay-for-play program into a wash-to-play program.

Harvey Lutu-Manumaleuna is the freshman football coach at Meridian High. Even before his first season got started, he was going to lose a number of his players, not to injury but because the new $110 sports fee in Meridian just wasn't in their families' budgets.

Some of the parents came to me in tears, and said they couldn't do it. They wanted their kid to play, but they can't afford it. I said, 'is there any other way?' We tried to find another way. They said, 'no, we can't do it at all. My kid is not going to play, said Lutu-Manumaleuna

But when the rest of the players heard this, they didn't just sit on the sidelines.

One of the kids said, let's do a car wash. It's on, let's do it! said Lutu-Manumaleuna. We're hurting. It is what it is, but that's living in the past. So, we can't be sitting around. We gotta step up and get it done.

This car wash is just kind of a way of helping out part of our family, kind of like our brothers, said freshman football player Lawney Staggs

The team has already seen a great response from the community. Commercial Tire donated their parking lot for this car wash. Dirty Harry's is donating their time and facilities for another car wash next week, and every driver to come through, is helping put another kid in pads, who otherwise, wouldn't be able to pay and play.

Jennifer Gonzales who had her car washed said, I think it's a great idea to keep them active in school sports. I think some of them are having a hard time paying the extra fees this year. And, I needed my car washed!

When you play sports, it's a big part of your life, Staggs said. We don't want you to have to give up a big part of your life.

It touches me. I can feel that the kids feel for each other, said Lutu-Manumaleuna

Coach Lutu-Manumaleuna said they pulled in about $300 today and that's three more kids on the team.

The next car wash will happen Saturday, August 27th, at the Dirty Harry's in Meridian from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

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