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Backyard crew in Towson is seeking soles for the Devils

Shoe collection boxes at Barley’s Backyard in Towson will be accepting donations to benefit The Red Devils through the end of October.
Shoe collection boxes at Barley’s Backyard in Towson will be accepting donations to benefit The Red Devils through the end of October. (Chiara Simone)

Barley’s Backyard Uptown (previously the site of The Greene Turtle) newly opened in April. Launching a restaurant during a pandemic is tricky business, but they have been able to spread positivity in the community while spreading the word about their new identity.

Owner Jill Packo says supporting Towson-area charities is a priority. “We know that many nonprofits are struggling during these uncertain times,” she said. “We made a conscious decision to reach out to different organizations to help them raise money while promoting our new brand.”

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So far, among their efforts has been partnering with Building for God Community Foundation to deliver meals to hospitals and frontline workers, and sponsoring their golf tournament in October.

They’ve delivered food to hospital, fire and police personnel in conjunction with RoundTable Relief and the Towson Chamber of Commerce. They’ve raised funds for the Lea Marie Faraone Foundation by selling specialty to-go drinks, and next month they will do a fundraiser for the SPCA in Baltimore.

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Currently, Barley’s Backyard is collecting new and gently worn shoes for Towson-based charitable organization The Red Devils and their Soles4Souls campaign.

“We’ve sponsored fundraisers for The Red Devils in the past, and the work they do to support Maryland breast cancer families is exceptional,” Packo said. “Tricia Zungailia Hayden [the services manager of The Red Devils] has been a huge supporter of our restaurant, and we, in turn, want to help her organization. We’re honored to be a part of this campaign.”

Both the “Uptown” (Towson) and “Downtown” (Fells Point) locations of Barley’s Backyard are gathering shoes for Soles4Souls now through the end of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Donations can be dropped in marked bins at the restaurants.

Every donated pair of shoes makes a double impact: Funds2Orgs converts the shoes (by the pound) into cash to support The Red Devils’ work. The collected shoes then become inventory to power micro-enterprises in developing countries, where micro-entrepreneurs restore the shoes and sell them.

The Red Devils do love shoes. Their annual “Wine, Women, & Shoes” event is a major fundraiser. This year, due to COVID-19, it was postponed from the regular May date and was held virtually on Aug. 23. Another shoe-related fundraiser offers a fitting boost to their resources.

“We have collected approximately 175 pairs of shoes so far,” Packo said. “We don’t have a specific goal number, but we’re hoping for a good response. Our customers and neighbors have never disappointed us.”

I personally know several breast cancer patients who have been appreciative recipients of the Red Devils’ services, so I am certainly happy to mask up and take some soles to the Devils over at the Backyard. And while I’m at it, grabbing some fried pickles and a Creamsicle Crush on the rooftop deck sounds pretty great, too!

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