Tom or as he is more commonly known around the Gold Coast, ’10 Cent Tom’ has an intellectual impairment and was diagnosed with severe scoliosis at the age of 15. This diagnosis resulted in him having two titanium rods being inserted up the length of his back. He doesn’t let this stop him from collecting bottles around the Gold Coast, from Pimpama to Palm Beach with the goal to open up his own recycling depot employing people with a disability.
“I don’t let anything stop me.”
Three years ago, Tom started collecting bottles around his neighbourhood while in his final years at school to earn some pocket money and get to know his neighbours and make friends.
Tom found that he loved the challenge and adventuring around his neighbourhood to collect bottles. This inspired him to make it into a business, collecting cans and bottles around the Gold Coast from homes, businesses and events.
Currently Tom and his mum spend a minimum of 20 hours a week dropping off and picking up 10 Cent Tom wheelie bins throughout the Gold Coast from Pimpama to Palm Beach however, Tom isn’t stopping there with plans to expand to Brisbane in the near future.
Tom’s story quickly caught on in early 2020 being featured on Channel 7 News and Sunrise. When asked if he was surprised by how quickly the project had grown Tom said, ‘Mum and I always knew that my project would be successful, however, we never thought it would grow and expand so quickly and that media would contact me to see if they could cover my story.’
Tom’s bins have been used at a number of events around the Gold Coast, with the biggest being the Red Hot Summer Tour. A festival that has featured artists such as; Jimmy Barnes, Hunters and Collectors, Icehouse, Killing Heidi, The Living End and many other Australian acts. Tom describes music as ‘next to recycling, music is my biggest passion.’
Tom with Australian music legend Jimmy Barnes
At these events Tom has a number of people with disabilities join his team to assist something that brings Tom ‘great pride’ to be able to do.
Tom has also released a series of merchandise with a traditional T-shirt as in his words ‘who doesn’t love a T-shirt’ and the out of the box idea of a stubby holder as they ‘fit in with what I am all about’.
10 Cent Tom is a not-for-profit charity so if you would like to donate or learn more about Tom head to www.10centtom.com.au or follow him on his Facebook and Instagram pages. Make sure to tune into his Facebook page every Sunday for his dad joke of the day.