LOS ANGELES, Nov. 12, 2018 – Spin Master Corp., a leading global children’s entertainment company, kicked off the season of giving with the first Caring & Sharing Holiday Banquet in Los Angeles. The inaugural event, hosted in partnership with the Shuki & Tori Levy Foundation, involved over 250 children from School on Wheels, a charity that provides tutoring, school supplies and other educational assistance to children experiencing homelessness in Southern California.
Held at Project Evolve Los Angeles, Spin Master employees and volunteers helped each child select two Spin Master toys – one for themselves and another to share with a friend. Children were also treated to a day at the “carnival” with classic games and booths such as ring toss and tattoo art, followed by a luncheon.
“We’re so excited to bring the spirit of giving and holiday cheer to children in Los Angeles this year,” said Ronnen Harary, Spin Master’s Co-Founder, Chairman and Co-CEO. “Our annual Caring & Sharing Holiday Banquet has been a giving tradition for Spin Master employees in Toronto for seven years. With our LA event, we are expanding the positive impact we have on kids during the holidays – seeing the smiles on their faces is the greatest reward.”
Partners for the Los Angeles Caring & Sharing Holiday Banquet, in support of School on Wheels, include the Shuki & Tori Levy Foundation, Project Evolve LA, Magic Jump Rentals, Fresh Brothers & Bart’s Carts, Magician Rich Freeman, Event Medics, and Riz Transportation.
“The School on Wheels program serves as a consistent support system to students at a time of great stress and fear,” said Catherine Meek, Executive Director of School on Wheels. “We bring the message to our students that they are cared about and important. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Spin Master on the first ever Los Angeles Caring & Sharing Holiday Banquet. The event’s caring and sharing theme reflects our core values and allows our students to experience the holiday giving spirit firsthand.”
Spin Master’s 8th Annual Caring & Sharing Holiday Banquet in Toronto will be taking place on December 4th at the Liberty Grand. Globally, Spin Master continues to bring inspiration and the opportunity to learn, grow and play to children living in challenging situations through the Spin Master led global initiative, the Toy Movement.
Over 70 students celebrated Halloween and trick-or-treated thanks to support from the LAPD, Downtown L.A Industrial District BID, our amazing volunteers, Hulu for their donation of trick or treat bags and goodies, everyone who donated costumes and candy, and our very own Allison Maldonado.
On Sunday, October 28, in the 5:30 AM early morning mist, students from all over Southern California began pouring into Dockweiler Beach for the annual Students Run Los Angeles (SRLA) Beachcomber 10K. This year, SRLA selected School on Wheels, Inc. as an official nonprofit partner for the SRLA Cares “Every Penny Counts” initiative.
At the event, members of our staff along with volunteer tutors, Natalie Platon, and Sam Hiatt connected with some of the 3000+ students and families and shared information about our program and about the students we serve. Staff members Ian, Angie, Ryan, and Natalie even got to run the 10K alongside the students and families! Thank you, SRLA, for inviting us to share our mission with your students and families and for selecting us as a recipient of the SRLA Cares initiative. For more photos of the event check out their website.
Marianna tutors at a domestic violence emergency shelter and her Tutor Coordinator nominated because of her dedication and consistency to the students. The expectation is that a tutor would come one day, one hour a week, but Marianna regularly comes 2-3 times a week. -Ana, Volunteer Support Coordinator
Marianna Schroeder – I learned about School on Wheels through volunteermatch.org. After scrolling through a number of volunteer opportunities in my area, I found that School on Wheels was the perfect match for me. Regularly practicing philanthropy, empathy, and compassion is highly important to me, and I’m grateful to have witnessed the personal and educational impacts of these traits among students and tutors at School on Wheels.
In a recent tutoring session, a fifth grade student asked me insightful questions about college and told me he wanted to attend UCLA. It amazed me that while overcoming immense instability and difficulty in his life, he was already considering pursuing higher education and working diligently in our sessions to achieve academic success. This memory will always stay with me and make me smile.
Volunteering as a tutor with School on Wheels is a fulfilling, engaging, meaningful, unforgettable, and rewarding experience. It’s genuinely touching to see the joy that is brought to both students and tutors when students believe in themselves and their ability to succeed.
Becky and her tutoring partner, Alli, are two of the most dedicated, consistent, passionate, and patient tutors I could ask for. Each week, they work with a vulnerable group of teen girls at a group foster home. They plan amazing art projects and field trips and inspire not only the girls they work with but me as well. Thank you, Alli and Becky, for all that you do! -Angie, Regional Coordinator
Becky – A few years ago I had brain surgery that left me with some disabilities, but School on Wheels and the group home community has always accepted me as I am. I accept the girls at the group home for who they are too. Really, who could ask for anything more?
Allison Rowe – Tutoring at a group home constantly reminds me of the power of showing up. You can’t undo yesterday, and there’s no knowing what tomorrow will bring.This is especially true for our girls. Showing up, being flexible with how the lesson flows, and bringing creative energy is what builds trust and acceptance between everyone at the table. There are days that the most impactful lessons are the ones I take home about the strength of the human spirit. Every week is an opportunity to listen and learn. It is a true gift to be a part of this community.
Jeremy Agrusa – I was looking to volunteer online and found School on Wheels to be something I was compelled to be a part of. Starting I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know if I would be able to help all that much. I found out was that it’s not about knowing everything or being a teacher: it’s about being there for someone who needs the help. These students are smart and eager to learn, and sometimes they just need to be encouraged. It’s amazing to see the change in a student’s attitude when you congratulate them on the work they do. One of my students in particular does not like math. He would start to get overwhelmed by the amount of work on the page, so we simplified it. I showed him a few tricks that worked for me when I was young and it clicked for him. He got so excited with his progress and speed that he finished 80 problems in less than 20 minutes instead of hours. That’s what this program is about, showing these students that we are there for them and that they are capable of exceeding their own expectations.
Eric Garcia – I began working with School on Wheels through my work at Revolve. I’ve been helping to tutor Latin students at Casa Libre through Schools on Wheels. I try to help students in any way I can; I usually read in English or sketch with the students. I feel lucky to be helping tutor at this organization because I truly believe good change starts with youth. I feel fulfilled to help the students as best I can to reach their goals!
Charlotte Kim – While I grew up in Los Angeles, I didn’t think twice about what it meant to be able to enroll in SAT bootcamp or other enrichment programs during high school, let alone have a stable home. Joining the hip-hop club when I started college, however, initiated my interest in underserved communities and some of the issues they face. Since January, I have had the pleasure of sharing my passion for learning with tomorrow’s future leaders and thinkers at an emergency shelter. It is always gratifying to see how excited the students are when I arrive with the other tutors for group tutoring, where we practice anything from math to reading to art. Thanks to School on Wheels and their endless support, I now see how much talent, enthusiasm, and compassion exist in our city despite immense challenges.
Miriam Leserman – I have been with School on Wheels for about four and a half years now, and it has been one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.
I was looking to do volunteer work and stumbled upon School on Wheels. Since the beginning I have worked as both a tutor and tutor coordinator at various locations.
I am currently at a domestic violence shelter. This location has been by far the most rewarding. Although I don’t get to work with the same children all the time, it has given me the opportunity to work with dozens of children and serve the community on a greater scale.
Lori Horhor – I completely love my experience online tutoring with School on Wheels! I love watching students reach their “a-ha” moment after struggling with the material for some time, because it demonstrates that hard work and practice always pays off. I realized that students look forward to meeting with their online tutor every week, which signifies that the relationship between tutor and student is extremely valuable in ways greater than simply academics. I hope that as an online tutor, I not only help my students understand their schoolwork, but also instill within them a curiosity and passion to learn and thrive.
Gabriel (11th grade) – I love seeing Gabriel brighten up when we talk about art and clothing! He’s very interested in becoming the best person and truly understanding what interests him! We sit and sketch together during the week and talk about shading, contouring, construction of garments, and croquis! – Eric Garcia, Tutor
Marco (age 16) – Marco and I work on his projects and homework together each week. Most of the time we are going over things as a recap or moving forward and learning something new. Marco is a smart, funny, intelligent and creative student. We are in the process of designing a game, and I will be teaching him how to code using Unity. He was responsible for the design, concept and gameplay. Over the past few weeks I have seen Marco grow in his confidence with schoolwork and ability to problem solve. He shows a great interest in coding and biology, which is perfect for designing biology-related programs. Keep up the great work, buddy! – Jeremy Agrusa, Tutor
Layben, Nytirri, and Lamar – There are few kids’ rituals as important as Saturday morning cartoons, but the siblings Layben, Nytirri and Lamar are always eager to work on math, kindly helping us set up the chairs and tables without being asked.
In the first few sessions, Layben (kindergarten) was more reserved, and I hardly heard him speak. After more one-on-one time, I have found he has a burgeoning sense of humor, playing jokes while I watch him make speedy progress on addition and subtraction.
Nytirri (2nd grade) reminds me of me as a child, with her diligence and her affinity for arts and crafts. If you teach her something new, she will master it by the next week and ask you to give her a more difficult problem set. Sometimes, she makes her own problems and teaches them to us.
Lamar (3rd grade) is equally devoted, bringing his own workbook to do extra practice at the end of a lesson. He loves brain games, like word searches and chess. He quickly learned the rules of chess one day, then taught them to the other students. As the oldest, he has a sense of confidence that I feel will enable him to be a leader.
– Charlotte Kim, Tutor
Katrina (10th Grade) – Katrina is very bright, a quality she undoubtedly gains through her love for reading. She invests hours into reading everyday and enjoys every minute of it! She says she loves to be transported to an alternate universe, in which the interesting events are taking place. Katrina is also an extraordinarily quick learner and grasps material after only a few minutes of practice. Often, we get through much more than I had initially intended to cover in one online tutoring session! It has been wonderful being able to connect with Katrina through online tutoring, and I have no doubt that Katrina will accomplish amazing things in the near future!
– Lori Horhor, Tutor
Skid Row Learning Center:
Bailey (Kindergarten) – Bailey is the first Kindergartener ever chosen as Student of the Month at the Learning Center! She is helpful, dutiful, kind, caring, and respectful. She not only completes her homework quickly and efficiently, but she also helps her classmates. She is the epitome of what a Student of the Month should be! – Jason Wright, Tutor