Kids on Computers
Teen's efforts pay off as needy
children get donated computers
By KIM McCOY
10:43 a.m. Feb. 7, 2001
Sometimes Christy Caruso can barely walk
through her bedroom. The 16-year-old's room doubles as storage space
for computers her company donates to needy children.
"What if a child I gave a computer to is the
next Einstein?" Caruso said. "What if he finds the cure for
Caruso's father, Mike, helped her get a
business license for Kids on Computers Inc. two years ago. The
nonprofit, Delray Beach-based company acquires used computers from
businesses and individuals. Caruso's brother, also named Mike,
updates the software and rebuilds the computers with his friends.
Caruso developed the idea for the business the
summer she volunteered as a nurse's assistant at the Caridad Health
Clinic west of Boynton Beach.
"It made me sit
back and think, 'I want to do something more,'" said Caruso, a
junior at Pope John Paul High II High School in Boca Raton. "I
thought of computers. I figured the whole world is running on
technology. It's become a huge part of our
At first, she just gave computers to
migrant families she met through the clinic, but she was only there
for one summer. Since then, along with friends and family, she has
spread the word about her business by posting fliers, calling and
mailing letters to businesses, and handing out business cards from
West Palm Beach to Miami.
Caruso happened to
call Gerstein & Gerstein, a law firm in Boca Raton, the same day
they bought a new monitor. The Gersteins decided to donate their old
"It was good timing," said attorney
William Gerstein. "I figured I better donate it (rather) than have
it sit in a closet at my house. Seeing how important computers have
become in our society, if a kid can get a head start, that would
make a positive difference."
Families in need
tend to find out about the business through word of mouth. Caruso
has also found families through volunteer work she does with her
school and church. Interested families contact her by letter or
e-mail and describe why they need a computer. Typically, when
financially strapped parents want to give their children computers
for educational purposes, that's reason enough for Caruso.
Tammy Fatica's 8-year-old son, David, received
a computer on Christmas Eve. He was "shocked," Fatica said. When
Christy delivered the computer, David didn't know it was for him.
Fatica, a single mom, also has twin babies.
She isn't working right now and says she wouldn't have been able to
give her son a computer. Friends are teaching her how to use it so
she can teach David. Caruso usually provides some basic instructions
when she delivers.
The company has given away
20 to 25 computers so far, Caruso said. She and her friends pick up
and deliver the computers themselves.
Christmas Eve, Caruso also delivered a computer to a Boynton Beach
family with 10 children. They live in a trailer and told her the
computer would be their only Christmas present.
"They had a party for it," Caruso said. "They
were so filled with joy. They were hugging and kissing
Caruso, an honor student, fits the
computer business in among varsity cheerleading practice, church and
several school clubs. Her friend, Jennifer Hajj, also a student at
Pope John Paul II, is one of several faithful volunteers.
"What we use every day, we take for granted,"
Hajj said. "Little kids are in awe. It's an amazing feeling."
Write to Kids on Computers Inc. at 1830 Lake
Drive, Delray Beach, FL 33444 or send e-mail to
Kim McCoy can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or