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About Us




Our goal is to provide children in need with weekly food backpacks over the weekend and holidays.


Some children living in economically disadvantaged areas within Anne Arundel County are dependent on receiving breakfast and lunch from school.  We serve children who receive free or reduced lunch.


Food insecurity is a significant need in Anne Arundel County.  In our county, 16,440 children (12.91%) live in food insecure households based on 2018 statistics from Feeding America ( with higher rates in the areas we serve: Brooklyn Park at 19.2% (congressional district 2), and Eastport and Glen Burnie at 14.1% (congressional district 3).  Forty percent of these children live in households that are likely ineligible for federal nutrition programs.


Nutrition is an important component of the physical development of children and one of the primary factors of a child's academic success. Children from food insecure households are more likely to lag behind in academic development when compared to other children.


Services from the Heart, Backpack Buddies Program is an all volunteer organization and a labor of love for board members and the dedicated team of volunteers who collect or purchase food, pack, and then deliver food each week to the three elementary schools that we serve.

Our Goals are to reduce food insecurity, meet individual student special food needs, and provide opportunities for community volunteers.


As we assist children with meeting their basic and essential needs such as food, we also open the doors of opportunity allowing them to flourish and progress as happy, healthy individuals.





How are children selected for the

Backpack Buddies Program?


The children selected for our Backpack Buddies Program are identified by the schools Principal, Guidance Counselor, and/or Program Coordinator.


The following criteria is used when selecting children for our Backpack Buddies Program:


  • Focus on Title 1 Schools within Anne Arundel County serving disadvantaged and low income children

  • Consider number of children within the household

  • Employment status of Parent/Guardian within the household

  • Child shares a financial hardship with the Program Coordinator or Guidance Counselor

  • Parent requests help, staff observes a hungry child in the cafeteria, or a child tells staff they are hungry/no food in the home

  • Consider other outside supports the family is receiving

  • Child is homeless


  • Donna Wilson-Johnston, LMSW (President & Founder)

  • David Petrillo, Vice President

  • Mike McCormick, Volunteer Coordinator & Grant Writer

  • Heather Croft, Secretary

  • Charlie McNeilly, CPA

  • Tara Williamson, Communications Social Media Coordinator



Award Received - May 2013

Services from the Heart, Backpack Buddies Program was nominated as one of the Partners of the Year by the Northern Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce. 

SFTH Board Members


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