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Grub ‘n’ Pub Event in Santa Monica to Benefit School on Wheels  


By Melonie Magruder
Staff Writer

April 25, 2012 -- On Saturday, when you hoist a pint at Cock 'n' Bull and chow down on some food truck fare in the adjacent lot, you'll make it possible for a homeless kid to stay in school.

The first ever Grub ‘N’ Pub Charity Event -- sponsored by Trailer Park Truck Saturday at Santa Monica’s Cock ‘n’ Bull British Pub on Lincoln Avenue -- will benefit School on Wheels (SOW), a non-profit that pairs volunteer tutors with homeless children.
Launched nearly 20 years ago, SOW was the brainchild of retired schoolteacher Agnes Stevens, who noticed the large number of homeless children attending Coeur d’Alene Elementary school, where she volunteered.

Stevens figured that this population of youngsters needed some extra help with the schoolwork, the means to buy school supplies or a place to do homework.

“School on Wheels takes the tutoring to the kids,” Stevens said. “Homeless students frequently don’t have the stability or encouragement to excel in school. Our tutors give them a boost.”

Today, not only does the organization pair the students with tutors, it even loads the children up with new backpacks filled with notebooks, pencils and other tutoring accoutrements.

The nonprofit has grown dramatically, roping in volunteers from all walks of life - from students to rocket scientists – and logging more than 30,000 tutoring hours a year.

The volunteers meet with their students at homeless shelters, libraries and sometimes at a local fast food restaurant. This year, SOW has worked with 1,500 students, one on one, and provided backpacks to more than 6,500 homeless children.

Their results have been as dramatic. Two years ago, one of SOW’s students, who had lived with her mother in a storage facility, successfully applied for a full scholarship and is now attending Harvard.

Along the way, Stevens has picked up plenty of accolades. In 2008, She won the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child, known as the “children’s Nobel Peace Prize,” and was recognized a year later by former California First Lady Maria Shriver at The Women’s Conference as being an exemplar of “Women as Architects of Change.”

Stevens was modest about the achievement. She was more excited at the number of backpacks, pencils and regional coordinators the prize money would buy.

Sinead Chilton, who calls herself a School on Wheels “Team Leader,” said that SOW plans to serve 2000 students this year and she hopes the upcoming fundraiser can help them achieve their goals.

“We’re in desperate need of backpacks right now,” Chilton said. “This recession seems to have hit homeless children the most and the demand never seems to decrease.”

Chilton said she had just heard that School on Wheels was nominated to receive one of Toyota’s “100 Cars for Good,” given to worthy charities around the country (the public can vote for SOW through Toyota’s Facebook page).

“We’re thrilled,” Chilton said. “Our old SUV has nearly 200,000 miles on it, and I had to jump start it last week. I’m afraid it’s on its last legs.”

As far as fundraisers go, this one promises to be a proper neighborhood picnic. Trailer Park Truck (“Not Your Mama’s Home Cookin’”) is a newer example of the ubiquitous food trucks seen on local streets and feature such delectables as Aunt Mimi’s Chicken and Waffles and Blue Ribbon Frito Pie.

But founder Dave Miller also liked the idea of giving back. So, for this first charity event, he roped in co-sponsors, dug up some great raffle items and organized a sort of block party.

Saturday’s event will feature artisanal wares, music, live paintings, raffle tickets for Disneyland, restaurant gift certificates and celebrity-signed memorabilia. Plus, anyone who brings new school supplies (such as backpacks, boxes of pencils and flash drives) to the event will receive goodie bags and free raffle tickets.

“I like to think we’re a rolling party,” Miller said. “Young families can come out in an evening, listen to some music and eat some great food, and it benefits a really good cause.”

Chilton said School on Wheels coordinators will be available at the event to speak more about their organization.

“This is such a fun idea,” she said. “But I’m hoping to do a little outreach, too. We really need some new volunteers.”

The Grub ‘n’ Pub Charity Event takes place April 28, from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the Cock ‘n’ Bull British Pub, 2947 Lincoln Blvd. To learn more about School on Wheels, visit the website


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