It all began in third grade, when Katie Stagliano’s 40-pound cabbage fed 275 homeless people. Now, Katie’s six gardens have produced over 4,000 pounds of vegetables to feed the needy.
When Katie Stagliano was in third grade, she planted a cabbage in her family’s small garden. When it grew to an astounding 40 pounds, she donated it to a soup kitchen, where it was made into meals for 275 people (with the help of ham and rice). “I thought, ‘Wow, with that one cabbage I helped feed that many people?'” says Katie, now entering sixth grade. “I could do much more than that.”
So Katie started planting vegetable gardens as part of her nonprofit Katie’s Krops – she has six right now – including one the length of a football field at her school in her hometown of Summerville, S.C. Classmates, her family and other people in the community help plant and water, and Bonnie Plants donates seedlings. This past year, Katie took her commitment to a new level: she has given soup kitchens over 2,000 pounds of lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables. Katie and her helpers are now harvesting the spring planting, and another 1,200 pounds will be donated by October.
“She just walks in like a proud little girl with her treasures in her arm,” says Sue Hanshaw, CEO of Tricounty Family Ministries, the soup kitchen in Charleston, S.C. where Katie first brought her 40-pound crucifer. “I love what she exudes, caring for others. It’s made a big impact on a lot of people.”
Says Elois Mackey, 49, a formerly homeless mother of two who has received a weekly vegetable delivery from Katie since September: “She is showing that you can help other people no matter how young you are. I love the vegetables she brings.”
Katie is a well-spoken 11-year-old who juggles the life of a school child with that of a world-changer. Swim practice, tennis matches, and studying (she has had the highest GPA of her class for the last four years) are sandwiched between daily waterings and tending. “It makes me feel good,” says Katie. “I feel bad for those people who have to go to Palmetto house [a homeless shelter where she and residents recently planted a garden], but I feel good that I’m helping people.”
Katie’s desire to help as well as create sprouted early. “She’s always been very inquisitive and wants to go above and beyond,” says her mom, Stacy, 41. “It’s like, ‘What about this and why aren’t we doing this?”
Since the age of four, Katie has placed first in competitions that include inventing a toothbrush now on sale that teaches water conservation, for the Dr. Fresh company. “When you put the toothbrush in your mouth to brush,” says Katie, “it plays a rap song that says, ‘Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, and you can save eight gallons of water.'”
Read more11-Year-Old Katie Stagliano Grows Tons of Veggies for the Homeless