Kids With Heart

These five young people are old souls when it comes to kindness.



Elizabeth Tran
Green and Beyond
“We’re the next generation and we’re the ones who can impact the environment most,” says Elizabeth, as she explains her motivation for starting Now 17, she started the website when she was 12 to spread awareness about how teens can protect the environment. Then in 2009, the pageant competitor and current Miss Teen Florida International created the Miss Miracle Pageant, an annual event that has raised more than $22,000 for Children’s Miracle Network. “I feel like I am such a blessed girl,’’ says the Cypress Creek High School student.  “The most important thing I can do to return the favor is to share my blessings.”
Andrew Weinstock  
Sweet Success
When Andrew decided to start collecting leftover Halloween candy for Operation Gratitude in 2009, he figured a reasonable goal was 50 pounds. He collected 911. In 2010, he collected 4,300 pounds. Last year, more than 2½ tons of candy passed through the 16-year-old’s Winter Park living room on its way to Iraq, where American soldiers use it as a community relations tool with local kids. “I think it is important to let our soldiers serving overseas know that we are thinking of them and that we appreciate the sacrifices they make every day to defend our country,” Andrew says.
Nikki Kingsland
Blanket Coverage
After watching a class video on homelessness in 2009, Nikki collected 500 blankets and sleeping bags to help those in need. Since then, the 12-year-old has collected more than 5,000 blankets, sleeping bags and backpacks for Central Florida’s homeless, along the way creating a website ( and a Facebook page to help her spread the word. “This experience has helped me realize that I have it a lot better than a lot of other kids my age,” says Nikki, who hands out some of the blankets in person at Lake Eola on Christmas morning. “And it’s taught us not to judge—these families didn’t plan on ending up here.”
Ryan Hart
Speaking Volumes
Like any 13-year-old, Ryan gets asked to clean his room a lot. But last year when the Sanford Middle School student rolled up his sleeves, he unearthed more than 100 unwanted books and magazines, and rather than toss them, he decided to give them away. “Then I realized that if I have this many books, my friends probably did too,” says Andrew, who was recently named a Disney Dreamer & Doer. Project Book Storm ( was born and has since amassed more than 7,000 books, magazine and toys, all of which are funneled through the Seminole County school system and given to kids in the free lunch program. “I learned that if you try to make a difference, you probably will,’’ Ryan says. “You should always try.”
Akylah Cox 
A Cultivating Spirit
Thirteen-year-old Akylah wanted to do something memorable with her seventh-grade presidency at Orlando Science Schools. So she applied for a $1,000 Disney Friends for Change grant to build a community garden at her school. Akylah used the money to buy 50 Woolly Pocket plant kits, solicited some soil donations, and set her schoolmates to work building a vertical garden outside of the school. “I feel like kids these days can do so much more than they actually think they can,” says Akylah, who is donating the bounty from the garden to Second Harvest Food Bank.



Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

Ask a Vet 2015

Local vets answer some important questions about your pets.

Premier Veterinarians 2015

Check out our searchable 2015 list of some of the best vets in the Orlando area.

Choosing a Graduate School

Programs at UCF and Rollins College

Top Vets 2014

Check out our searchable 2014 list of some of the best vets in Orange and Seminole counties.

Premier Realtors

Let Orlando's best realtors help you find your dream home!

Wedding Resource Guide

Find the best wedding vendors in Orlando.

Summer Getaways 2015

Summer is finally on its way and now is the perfect time to plan your getaway. Check out some of these great deals and special destinations just a short drive from Orlando.

Shattering Myths of Better Business Bureau

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Weekend Happenings in Orlando October 2 to 4

Find the best events in and around Orlando for the weekend.

Halloween at the Parks

Orlando's theme parks go all out for Halloween

Arts Beat: Peace Offerings

The Global Peace Film Festival is screening 57 new movies at three locations through Oct. 4.

Weekend Happenings in Orlando September 25 to 27

Find the best events in and around Orlando for the weekend.

Arts Beat: Lady of the House

Dee Roscioli's sendups of showbiz goddesses turn the "Spamalot'' silliness up a notch.
Edit Module