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.
“Safety and security don’t just happen. They are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
– Nelson Mandela
As a nonprofit dedicated to supporting children experiencing homelessness, we understand the anxiety and trauma families suffer living in homeless shelters, but we cannot begin to imagine the stress and fear children and parents are enduring by being separated and held in tents and detention centers.
No matter what our opinions are about immigration policy, surely we can all agree that children have no control over their situation. Children are fragile and vulnerable. The impact of separation on them is unconscionable. We can’t unsee images of babies and children being taken from their parents to be used for political reasons. There is no protocol in place for keeping track of parents and children concurrently, for keeping parents and children in contact with each other while they are separated, or for eventually reuniting them. Surely a nation as generous and compassionate as the United States can find a way to prevent separating children from their parents.
If we are to protect our civility, our values, our worth as a society, we must first protect our children… all of our children.
School on Wheels is happy to announce the appointment of a new Executive Board member. Joining the Board is Ellen Padnos: “I’m thrilled and honored to have a greater role within School on Wheels. I’ve worked with the team for years and am so inspired by them and the incredible work they do.”
Ellen has supported School on Wheels for many years, and with her group, Joyful Giving has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through their annual fundraising event to benefit School on Wheels.
“We are delighted that Ellen is joining the Board. She has been an integral part of our fundraising team for several years and I know she will continue to use her talents and her passion for our mission to help School on Wheels and our students,” said Catherine Meek, Executive Director
Prior to starting Joyful Giving, Ellen co-founded and was Editor-in-Chief of Women.com which she sold with her husband in 2013. Ellen spent her early career working in Sales and Operations at Yahoo in Silicon Valley and for USA Networks in New York.
Ellen currently resides in Manhattan Beach with her young family. She loves what she does and with over 100 active members of Joyful Giving and Joyful Givings Kids (created in 2016) is changing how her community, young and old, finds out and supports local nonprofits, not only financially but through volunteering and activism too.
School on Wheels is honored to announce that President of OMD Entertainment, Susan Taylor will join the Board of Directors.
“I created The Emily Austin Project for School on Wheels in honor of a young colleague’s sudden and tragic death. The Project provided a much needed outlet to help put grief into action. In learning more about School on Wheels I knew I wanted to be part of this small but mighty organization in a more substantial way. I am excited to join their Board of Directors.” - Susan Taylor
Susan is a career veteran of the entertainment and advertising industries focusing on film, television and theater. She currently holds the position of President, OMD Entertainment, an Omnicom agency that exclusively services The Walt Disney Company, including Studios, DCP, Franchise, DATG and Home Entertainment.
During her tenure at OMD Entertainment, Susan created The Emily Austin Project which continues today. The Emily Austin Project includes a corporate footprint for tutoring throughout her company in addition to a donation portal. Susan’s parents were both educators with LAUSD and she is a passionate believer in the importance of education in providing opportunity and hope.
“Susan is a great addition to our Board of Directors. She embodies the spirit of community and will bring talent, expertise and energy to our Board. We have all been inspired not only by her fundraising efforts in memorializing her former colleague, Emily Austin, but also in allowing her employees to use part of their workday to tutor our homeless students.” Catherine Meek, Executive Director.
“I really enjoy advocating for education and being a voice for students who are normally overlooked. Education has always been important to me because it represents a springboard out of homelessness.” – Angela M. Sanchez
School on Wheels first met Angela when she was 17 and living at a homeless shelter with her dad. While living in shelters and motels, she completed high school with a 4.2 GPA and went on to college at UCLA.
Angela Sanchez earned her Master’s in Education with a focus in student affairs from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Volunteering with School on Wheels, while an undergraduate, she established the first university faction of the nonprofit at UCLA. Angela created college admissions and financial aid workshops tailored to the students’ needs in addition to volunteer recruitment, training, donor and community relations, and development.
As a graduate student, Angela provided the evaluation component to UCLA’s Philanthropy Lab and also worked in UCLA’s Alumni Affairs, assessing scholarship recipients’ feedback to engage alumni and encourage giving. Angela currently works as the Program Analyst for College Success at the ECMC Foundation and continues to provide motivational talks for students across Los Angeles. Her impressive background in program development, assessment and community building, in addition to her unique personal experience with homelessness, will be great assets to the School on Wheels board.
“Angela is a true Renaissance woman,” says Catherine Meek, Executive Director. “She is a talented education professional, soon to be published author and cartoonist, magician (member of the Academy of Magical Arts at the Magic Castle), blogger extraordinaire, and passionate education advocate for our students. I’ve known Angela for over seven years, and she will bring all her experiences, knowledge and skills to enhance our mission at School on Wheels.”
“I am so excited to welcome Angela Sanchez to our Board. Angela brings with her first hand experience of being homeless and working with a School on Wheels volunteer tutor while living in a shelter. She has transformed these life lessons to become a successful role model and an outspoken advocate of our mission. We look forward to working with Angela and sharing her passion.” – Joshua A. Fein, Board President