After a record-breaking year in 2022, a local teen is back for a fifth year collecting donations for pets waiting to be adopted.
Noah McKeown, 14, of New Whiteland, collects pet supplies, such as food, collars and toys, annually to donate to two animal shelters. He started the drive in 2019 for his birthday, and it’s grown exponentially over the years.
Particularly last year, after receiving publicity through the Daily Journal and other local news outlets, he more than doubled his goal in donations collecting 1,900 items. That shattered his initial goal of collecting 423 items.
Noah McKeown and his family were amazed, grateful, and also surprised by the support they received from the community for his donations. He never realized his idea to donate to pets in need would grow this much, he said.
He started the drive at age 10, when he was inspired to help local pets in shelters after his dog, Harley, passed away. He had a special connection to Harley, and he wanted to help other animals looking for homes.
“I just wanted to help the pets,” Noah McKeown said.
During that first year, he started small, collecting 25 donations. By the second year, the number grew to 115, and go up to over 400 in the third year.
Noah McKeown’s goal this year is to beat the 1,900 donations from last year, and he’s already halfway there just two weeks into the drive. As of Tuesday, they had collected over 900 pet supplies items.
All the donations are split between the Johnson County Animal Shelter and S.A.F.E. Animal Rescue in Linton, where the family’s dog, Wall-E, was adopted. Food, toys, treats and cleaning supplies are continuously needed to help dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals that are being brought to the shelters daily.
Each evening, the Noah McKeown, and his mom, Monica McKeown, catalog the new items and stores them in their garage until they can distribute to the shelters at the end of the drive. They get packages from their Amazon wishlist almost daily, and Noah McKeown is filled with excitement each day bringing the new boxes in.
He likes to help delivery drivers carry the packages in, too, and many days, there are a lot of boxes.
“One day he went out, and asked them if they had many more and if they needed help. And she said, ‘I’m pretty sure the rest of the truck is for you,’” Monica McKeown said.
Noah McKeown opens each package, and reads notes left by the people who bought the donation. Wall-E also likes to help. He sniffs around the packages and helps Noah unbox the supplies. He gets especially excited when new treats arrive for him to inspect.
People can pitch in by ordering from an Amazon Wish List the family created again this year or purchasing supplies in person to drop off at several sites in Whiteland, Greenwood and Trafalgar. The deadline for donations is Feb. 6.
They will also have a booth set up to collect items at the Whiteland Community High School home basketball game against Franklin this Friday night. Noah McKeown is a freshman at the high school, and the athletic director reached out asking if he’d be interested in setting up a spot to take donations at a game this year.
The family continues to promote the drive and share updates on the Facebook page they created called, “Noah’s Pet Supply Donation Drive.”
Noah McKeown’s passion for animals keeps growing each year, and he has big dreams for the future of the drive. He wants to continue it every year, and maybe eventually turn it into a bigger nonprofit to help shelter animals when he’s an adult. He also interested in taking animal science and zoology classes. He hopes to be a zookeeper or a wildlife biologist one day.
Noah McKeown also hopes he can inspire other kids and teens his age to help in their communities.
“I like giving back to the animals, and knowing that the stuff they get can keep them living and help them find a home,” he said.
HOW TO HELP
Select items from the Amazon Wish List found at NoahHelpsPets.com Items can be purchased with a credit card and will be delivered to the McKeown home.
Donations can be dropped at the following sites in Johnson County:
- A Little Bit of Everything, 400 Tracy Road, Suite 7, New Whiteland
- AJ’s Picture Perfect Cleaning, 400 Tracy Road, Suite 5, New Whiteland
- Beeson Mechanical, 501 Main St., Whiteland
- Bella Rose Design, 1001 N State Road 135, Suite B3, Greenwood
- Hadwell Hardware, 203 State Road 135, Trafalgar
- Hardee’s, 1001 S U.S 31, New Whiteland
- Patrick’s Car and Truck, 370 N. U.S. 31, Whiteland
- Whit’s Inn, 1020 N. U.S. 31, Whiteland
Donations will also be collected at the Whiteland vs. Franklin boys’ varsity basketball game at Whiteland Community High School on Friday. The game starts at 7:30 p.m.
The deadline for donations is Feb. 6