Honest Helping Hands: Katie's Krops

Honest Helping Hands: Katie's Krops

An Inside Look at Honestly Amazing Non-Profits

Katie Stagliano from South Carolina started Katie's Krops five years ago out of her desire to feed people without food. For a third grade project, she grew a cabbage in her yard and donated it to a local soup kitchen where it went into a meal that fed 275 people. After that experience, Katie wondered how many people an entire garden could feed. Now 14, Katie has watched her small gardening project blossom into a non-profit that helps feed people in more than 25 states and encourages other youths to plant their own gardens. Katie shows us the power a simple garden can have on your community.

Q. What was your motive to start Katie's Krops?

Katie's Krops

A. When I was in the third grade I received a tiny cabbage seedling from the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program. As instructed by my teacher, I brought the cabbage seedling home, planted it and cared for it. When deer were spotted in my neighborhood I constructed a cabbage cage around my very special plant to protect it from hungry animals. When my cabbage was ready to harvest it weighed in at an amazing 40 pounds.

My father had always shared how blessed my family was to have food on the table every night. He explained that there were many families, many children, who went to bed hungry. As I watched my cabbage grow and discussed with my family what I should do with my massive cabbage, I recalled my father's words. I knew that I wanted to share my cabbage with the families, the children, who did not have enough to eat.

In May of 2008, I donated my cabbage to Tricounty Family Ministries, a soup kitchen in North Charleston, South Carolina. I had the great honor to not only donate my cabbage but I had the privilege to serve it to the guests of the soup kitchen after it was prepared with ham and rice. My cabbage helped to feed 275 people. Who were the guests? There were families, just like mine. There were wounded Veterans. There were senior citizens. There were mothers and fathers. And there were children, just like me.

As I left Tricounty Family Ministries on that day I knew I wanted, I needed, to do more to help individuals who struggled with hunger. If one cabbage could feed 275 people, I imagined how many people a whole garden could feed. That was the birth of Katie's Krops. I never imagined five years later Katie's Krops would be a non-profit with over 60 gardens growing in over 25 states.

Q. Why is it important to get kids involved in non-profit work?

A. Whether you are 9 or 99, you have the ability to change the world. Find a cause you believe in and follow your heart. Youth are so powerful -- just imagine how wonderful the world would be if every child decided to follow their heart and help, even for just one hour in a cause they believed in.

One of our young Rhode Island growers puts it best saying, “It made my heart grow twice as big to see how grateful these people were for us just by giving produce to them,” said Sofie, Katie's Krops Grower, in seventh grade. Wouldn't it be magical if every child had that experience?

Q. How can people (and kids specifically) get involved with your organization?


A. Every Katie's Krops garden is youth run. We provide grants to kids, age 9 to 16, to start vegetable gardens at their homes, schools, parks, rooftops or anywhere they have land to start a garden. Our grant cycle opens at the end of the year (around December).

If a child, or a group of friends or students, is excited about growing a healthy solution to hunger in their community, I would love for them to apply.

At Katie's Krops we go beyond just awarding grants. It has been my dream to create a family of young growers all across the United States. Every grower receives funding and a camera to document their garden. In addition, every young grower is also eligible to attend the all-expenses paid Katie's Krops Camp. Katie's Krops also offers an educational scholarship for the volunteer and grantee of the year.

What makes Katie's Krops unique is that all grants are renewable. If a grantee wants to continue to grow, we will support their efforts. This makes Katie's Krops a truly sustainable solution to hunger.

We always need help to make this all possible. We would love to find individuals and companies who believe in our efforts and will support the efforts.

Q. What was your most memorable moment during your work with Katie's Krops?

A. There have been more than I could ever count but one very special moment happened very early on. I was invited to speak at a Bible School Camp. The young campers, all under the age of 10, filled the room. When I finished speaking about my dream of Katie's Krops, I asked if there were any questions. A young girl in the back of the room raised her hand and said, "I don't have a question. I just want to say you are very nice." She stood up and came to the front of the room. On her shirt she had a small sticker that said 'Love'. She removed the sticker from her shirt and put it over my heart then she leaned in and gave me a big hug. When she left the room the Bible School Director shared that the little girl was homeless. She and her family had been relying on the homeless shelter for support. The vegetables I had been donating to the shelter were feeding her family. I will never forget that moment.

Q. Getting a non-profit up and running (and keeping it running) can be hard work. Do you have any advice for someone (of any age) looking to start their own?


A. I have to be honest. I never set out to start a non-profit. I set out to help end hunger in my community. I worked very hard and my efforts caught the attention of Build-A-Bear. I was honored to be a Build-A-Bear Huggable Hero 2009. I was awarded a donation for my cause but I did not have a 501(c)(3) to accept the funds. I found the support I need from RandomKid.org. They provide a 501(c)(3) umbrella for charitable or educational efforts developed by youth. I was blessed to be one of those youth!

This was the best possible scenario for my dream, Katie's Krops. RandomKid helped guide and support my efforts. Eventually, after a few years, we had grown so large that it was time for us to form our own 501(c)(3).

What would my advice be? If you are a young philanthropist, reach out and find a support system. I had the most amazing people guide and support my efforts. RandomKid was the best possible situation for Katie's Krops. They gave us the chance to grow and to truly know that forming a non-profit was absolutely the right step for Katie's Krops.

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