Never too young to make change
By Daniel Park
Every year around the winter holidays in Miami, Florida, the faces of kids light up with glee when they see Krystal Tome strain through the doors of her local daycare, her arms laden with toys and goodies. The children will giggle with delight as they push each other to be the first to run up to her and say hi.
Tome began her toy drive initiative in 2013 as only a fifth grader but has continued that tradition to this day. Every year, she collects toys from her community and brings them to Carver Day Care where they can brighten up the days of the children who attend there, many of whom are in the foster care system. She said that her inspiration to give back to her community stems from two places. Her first inspiration was simply a childhood favorite of hers, the movie Annie.
“I just watched that old movie as a kid, and I wanted to visit an orphanage and help those children,” Tome said as she described how she eventually found that the best way was to ask friends and family for donations of new toys for gifts to individual children, or used toys in good condition to donate directly to the daycare..
That hasn’t been the only way that she has helped enhance her community. She has worked alongside Joshua Williams, a close friend, and her second inspiration for her community service.
In 2005, Williams created his own not-for-profit youth organization called the Joshua’s Heart Foundation. Devoted to the fight against poverty and hunger, the Joshua’s Heart Foundation has self reportedly raised more than $1 million to fight hunger and distributed more than 2.2 million pounds of food, transforming entire neighborhoods and communities.
Friends since preschool, Tome and Williams have continued to push each other to new heights as volunteers. Acting as one of the youth leaders for the foundation, Tome was motivated to create her own initiatives after “seeing that kids under the age of 16 could volunteer and change their community.”
Tome, 17, and a rising senior at the School for Advanced Studies in Miami, Florida, enjoys taking part in her school newspaper and theater productions, even working for the Broward Center for the Performing Arts as a Teen Ambassador.
She aspires to become an intellectual property lawyer and help minorities and disadvantaged groups.
“I would like to help artists through pro bono work,” Tome said. “Oftentimes record labels take advantage of the fact they (artists) might not be able to afford a lawyer and (labels) create contracts that could cage the artist creatively by controlling what the artist can or cannot do.”
Asked why intellectual property, Tome said, “I have always loved the arts, and through intellectual property law I can work with the things that I love along with having a career I am interested in.”