By Sherri Coner
One of Noah McKeown’s favorite birthday wishes comes true each year when he and his parents, Scott and Monica McKeown of New Whiteland, drive around to different donation sites to collect bunches of chew toys and treats from big-hearted dog lovers.
“Sometimes it can be really tight quarters,” Monica McKeown said of the drive home with donations packed into every available nook and cranny of the family car.
Once the treats and toys are counted, sorted and then donated, Noah hopes that lost, surrendered or abandoned dogs have brighter days in area shelters.
Like anything else motivated by the heart, his effort, officially known as Noah’s Pet Supply Donation Drive, grows more each year.
This busy Whiteland Community High School freshman created the wish on his 10th birthday, when his heart was more broken than any child’s heart should ever be.
The family had recently lost Harley, Noah’s beloved nearly 13-year-old canine buddy.
Even as young and sad as he was about the loss of one of his best friends, Noah somehow knew a couple of things about life that many adults don’t always remember. He knew that doing something special in memory of Harley would celebrate the bond they shared. And he knew that helping other dogs be happier would make him feel at least a little bit happier, too.
That first year, Noah’s parents helped him spread the word among relatives and friends.
Since then, the donation drive has been shared on social media and in area newspapers.
When television coverage was offered last year, donations dramatically rose to a grand total of 1,904 donations.
“Noah would like to beat that goal by at least one,” Monica McKeown said.
“Tying the record would be nice,” Noah said.
Thanks to other animal lovers sharing their hearts each year, honoring Harley’s memory has always been a success.
Three years ago, the McKeown family adopted a puppy from the S.A.F.E. Animal Rescue in Linton, Ind. and named him Wall-e, after a Disney robot.
“We are huge Disney fans,” Noah said.
As much as the family loves Wall-e, when the birthday candles are lit on Jan. 31, Noah never loses interest in honoring Harley. He also never stops hoping to make a difference for dogs without homes.
“I just want to make sure the dogs in shelters are happy, healthy and loved until they go to a good home,” he said.
To donate to Noah’s Pet Supply Donation Drive, go to Bella Rose Designs, 1001 N. State Road 135 Suite B3, Greenwood, 46142. Donations are accepted until Feb. 6.