He wasn’t riding the bus everyday, or carrying piles of books into the classroom, but in September, 2018, 5-year-old Oliver Doyle wanted a backpack. It took some convincing to get his mother Melissa Doyle on board, but soon the pair were on their way to Walmart.
It was already a busy day and the Walmart stop was a detour on the way to visit Oliver’s Aunt Judy, who was undergoing cancer treatment. As Oliver sifted through his options, he saw a woman with a cart overflowing with backpacks. Always eager to ask questions, Oliver asked what they were for. The woman, Stacy Keen, explained she was buying as many backpacks as she could so she could give them to kids who needed them.
“(Oliver) couldn’t understand that there were kids out there who didn’t have absolutely everything that they needed,” Melissa said. The 5-year-old convinced his mother to buy a few backpacks for Keen, but it didn’t stop there. He wanted to keep giving backpacks to kids, and, as Melissa says, “Oliver’s Backpacks was born” – a ministry organization as part of the nonprofit Friends Can Make it Happen.
It’s been over a year and Oliver’s Backpacks has delivered over 100 backpacks to kids throughout Northcentral, Pa., and in Philadelphia. The backpacks are filled with notepads, pens, scissors, glue and other school supplies.
“It has just exploded from there,” Melissa Boyle said.
Oliver turned 7 in April and he is still just as eager to give backpacks to those who need them. After a battle with cancer, Keen passed away, leaving behind the ministry and boxes of nearly 100 backpacks. Melissa took on Keen’s position and she and Oliver are just as eager as ever to find new ways to help others.
“It was just overwhelming to see how God orchestrated that meeting,” Melissa Boyle said. “Here we are now, with all these backpacks and a little boy with a heart for children who don’t have the things that they need.”
As schools get ready to open again in the fall, Oliver’s Backpacks will be ready to get as many backpacks to students in need as possible.