Austin

Austin 7-year-old forgoes birthday to collect bikes for kids in need

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- A Central Texas 7-year-old is forgoing gifts for himself for his birthday and instead asking people to donate bikes for kids in need this holiday season.

Oliver Harkness got the idea when he found himself without a bike earlier this year after popping three tires on his and his sisters’ bikes. It was hard for him to spend even a day without being able to ride, and that got him thinking. 

“I felt bad for other people that don’t have money to buy bikes,” he said, “and never had a bike in their whole entire life.” 

Oliver turned seven on Dec. 6, but instead of asking for a new ride for himself, he asked his parents if they could start collecting bicycles for other kids who needed them.

"I was pretty blown away," Catherine Harkness, Oliver's mom, said. "Giving up a birthday, I think, is a pretty great thing."

Harkness posted the request on her Facebook page, and they’ve been collecting ever since. Oliver spends afternoons driving to various pick-up spots with his parents. People have also been stopping by their house to donate bikes, skateboards, roller blades, and scooters.

Oliver does the important job of test-riding the bikes down his street, as any respectable 7-year-old would. His old bike, which hasn't grown with him, is also going to be donated.

As of Wednesday they were close to 30 bikes, but Oliver isn’t prepared to stop. 

“My goal is to get 100 bikes,” he said. 

The family will pass along the donations to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office’s Brown Santa program, which provides toys, food, and games to families in need around the county. They’ll clean up and fix the ones they can to pass out this holiday season.

Sunday, Dec. 16, the family is hosting a donation party at Avery Ranch Park in northwest Austin. If you’d like to donate to his cause, you can bring a new or gently-used bike to the tennis courts there at 4 p.m. Brown Santa will pick up the donations later that evening.

If you can't make it to the party, the Harknesses set up an email address, DonateWithOliver@gmail.com, to arrange drop-offs or pickups outside of Sunday's donation event.

"Hopefully he’ll get close to that goal of 100 bikes and make 100 kids happy on Christmas," Harkness said.

But for Oliver, who plans to ask Santa for a bike of his own, each donation he gets is like a gift on his behalf. 

"Giving to other people," he said, "doing that, it just feels great."

See how the Travis County Sheriff's Office surprised the Good Samaritan below:


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