By Michelle Colesanti

A friend is someone who is always there for you. Friends of Fishhawk, a non-profit organization started by Kelly Rowjohn in 2012, has become that friend to those in need in the FishHawk area. Neighbors volunteer their time and efforts to help out those who may need assistance throughout the year.

With the new school year beckoning, there are local families who need some help making sure that their children have the right materials to start the school year off right.

Friends of Fishhawk recently began its annual backpack drive called Friends of Fishhawk Backpack Buddies program.  It is 100 percent organized and run by Fishhawk teens and overseen by Rowjohn, along with other volunteer parents. Over 30 teens will help fill the backpacks on Saturday, August 19.

Local high school junior Isabelle Ethridge is volunteering her time for this project. She said, “I help with this because I know what it is like to need the supplies.” She feels that this is a great foundation and wants to be a part of it.

According to Rowjohn, “This is the third year we have done this program and we have helped between 45 and 60 families in past years, but this year our goal is 100 backpacks.

“Volunteers will work with the guidance counselors and the administration of local schools to get the backpacks into the hands of families who may need a little extra help with supplies this year. A few backpacks will also be left with each school to use at their discretion. Supply request forms have been circulated to families in the community and they can request assistance through those forms.  A form can be requested by emailing

The project is being organized on the Friends of Fishhawk Facebook page at Individuals can request to join the group for more information.

The Friends of FishHawk Backpack Buddy Program is looking for donations of gift cards and monetary donations (checks can be made out to Friends of Fishhawk; noting it is for the Backpack Buddies program) and also via PayPal at PayPal address.

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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.