‘Olly’ turns $5 find into $8,400 community bonanza

·2 min read

When eight-year-old Oliver Williams came upon a $5 bill outside the A.J. LaRue Arena after playing hockey Dec. 5, he originally imagined spending it on a Christmas gift for his grandmother.

His mother, Chyna Schell, said after coming across OPP doing a food bank drive outside the Haliburton Foodland, Oliver was inspired and wanted to donate for that cause. Oliver did so, and Schell posted about it on Instagram.

But the family did not expect the post to go viral, inspiring people to provide their own small donations – raising more than $2,700 for the Haliburton 4Cs Food Bank in the span of one week, matched by both Foodland and CDH Carpentry Dec. 12. The final tally was $8,400.

“I feel like they feel good too, like me,” Oliver said of the donators inspired by him. “It’s been very good.”

Schell said the power of social media is incredible, adding most of the donations are small, with only a couple more than $100.

“So cool to see it spread,” she said. “Good news travels far. We all need a lot more of it lately because our lives this year haven’t been filled with joy and the amount of joy that’s come out of this week has just been so wonderful.”

Eleanor Dobbins and Chris Dobbins of CDH Carpentry said the story moved them to make the matching donation.

“We were really inspired by what Olly had started,” she said.

“It’s truly amazing,” Chris Dobbins added. “The boy’s an inspiration for the rest of the kids in Haliburton.”

Schell said the experience has taught the whole family valuable life lessons.

“Incredible to watch my kids learn that every little bit counts. But I’m benefiting just as much,” she said. “I didn’t even realize how much I would walk past a donation box and think, I only have a five, I only have a couple of bucks. I should give when I have a bit more … I’m never going to do that again. Every little bit helps.”

She said in a year where people may not have as much to give, working together can go a long way.

“There is strength in numbers,” Schell added. “When we come together and we give a little bit each, it makes a huge difference.”

Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander