A First Foundation Blog

Focus on Philanthropy – Blessings in a Backpack SWFL

2 minute read

Blessings Through the Eye of a Hurricane  

Hurricane Ian brought catastrophic destruction to homes, businesses, and lives throughout the Southwest Florida community. First Foundation Bank’s expansion into Florida meant that our employees, customers, and buildings were among the millions of residents and structures that were directly impacted by the deadly storm. Understanding the suffering of so many and the need for continuing support during the recovery process, First Foundation Bank worked together with one of our existing charitable partners, Blessings in a Backpack of Southwest Florida, to identify ongoing needs. One of the immediate needs included 150 displaced elementary school children that were relocated to San Carlos Elementary School and struggling with food insecurity. First Foundation Bank made the commitment to feed every one of those impacted children moved to San Carlos Elementary for a full calendar year with a $20,000 donation to Blessings in a Backpack.  

First Foundation Bank began its partnership with Blessings in a Backpack of Southwest Florida this year with an initial Supporting Our Communities grant for 2023 and continuing grant support for an additional two years. Blessings in a Backpack was brought to the company’s attention by Heather Tice, Marketing Manager for Events and Community at First Foundation, who currently serves as a board member and is a long-time supporter of the organization. First Foundation recognized the tremendous work being done by Blessings in a Backpack to provide hunger-free weekends for thousands of children in Collier and Lee County schools, and quickly began to build a strong, long-term partnership with the organization. When the organization’s Executive Director, Cecilia St. Arnold, expressed the need to feed the hurricane displaced children at San Carlos Elementary, First Foundation made the commitment the very next day to donate the funds to feed all those children for 2023. 

In addition to the company’s financial donation to assist the community’s recovery, our team members in Florida provided extensive personal volunteer support throughout many affected neighborhoods. First Foundation employees, even some of those personally impacted by the hurricane, rolled up their sleeves to help their community heal and rebuild. This included everything from donations and volunteer work to physical labor moving furniture to curbs or tearing out drywall and carpet, as well as many opening their homes to friends and neighbors in need. 

Blessings in a Backpack continues to do amazing work providing weekend meals to children who would otherwise go hungry, and we are so pleased to support their efforts through our partnership. 

First Foundation Bank and our employees continue our commitment to provide support for the communities we serve.  


Philanthropy Services provided by First Foundation Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.

Heather Tice, VP, Marketing Manager, Events and Community
About the Author
Heather Tice, VP, Marketing Manager, Events and Community