DOWNTOWN — Raise your glasses for charity.

This weekend Westside Food Bank is the beneficiary of Santa Monica’s first annual pub crawl, which will take place on Dec. 19 starting at 5 p.m. More than a dozen bars and restaurants throughout the city will be participating in an attempt to spread holiday cheer and promote a worthy cause.

The pub crawl aims to raise money and food donations by having participants donate non-perishable food items at designated drop-off points along the route. After donating, the “crawlers” will receive a wristband, giving them access to a variety of food and drink specials at each place they visit.

The list of crawl locations includes Wokcano, Shangri-La Hotel, The Yard, Joe’s Pizza, JP’s Sports Bar and Grill, and Ye Olde King’s Head Pub, among others.

Kim Koury, of Spin Public Relations, one of the groups sponsoring the event (along with the Santa Monica Daily Press and Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce), says she and her friend, Rebecca Turk, a fellow publicist, came up with the idea about seven weeks ago.

“We literally just woke up one morning with the idea to do a pub crawl,” Koury said. “We were wondering, ‘Why didn’t anyone think of this before?’”

The pair started making phone calls, and now, almost two months later, 17 bars and restaurants have signed up, and at least 500 people plan on participating, said Koury.

The event “is a big awareness-raising campaign,” said Genevieve Riutort, development director for the Westside Food Bank. Started in 1981, the food bank distributes nearly 4 million pounds of food annually to 65 Westside social service agencies, aiding food assistance programs and reducing food waste in the Westside.

“We are looking to reach out to a younger demographic to let people know we are the food bank for this city while raising our profile in the community,” Riutort said.

A portion of the restaurants’ proceeds for the evening will go to the food bank, in addition to the food items and sales from pub crawl T-shirts and Santa hats, Koury said.

Koury also notes the importance of the event being held in Santa Monica.

“Santa Monica is a city where you can go to multiple bars in one night without having to take a taxi like you do in Downtown Los Angeles or in other places,” she said. “With all the bars and restaurants opening up, we wanted to make Santa Monica a nightlife destination, while supporting the [food bank].”

Peter Dolan, general manager of Ye Olde King’s Head Pub, was thrilled when he was asked to participate.

“It’s a very English thing to do a pub crawl,” said Dolan, who manages the popular establishment that calls itself “an Ambassador to all things British.” When asked if he would consider doing the crawl again next year, Dolan replied, “Absolutely. Anything for a pint and a good cause!”

Koury said the goal is to make the crawl a yearly holiday tradition for Santa Monica.

Participants will be given one of three different crawl routes to follow and will spend between 45 to 60 minutes at each location before moving on. Everyone is asked to dress up in their best holiday garb in an effort to spread joy and cheer throughout the city. The event encourages patronage at the participating bars and restaurants and emphasizes responsible drinking at all times.

For more information about the event, visit www.santamonicapubcrawl.com.

news@www.smdp.com

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