“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”"
William Arthur Ward.
A few months ago I wrote a blog, that I never posted, about the power of the two words, "Thank You". This morning I was reminded just how powerful those word are. How two words can change the course of events.
'Thank you'. Those two words may be some of the most meaningful and powerful words a person can speak, type, and write. I have an abundance of gratitude for the people who have helped me achieve my dreams. My parents have always instilled in me to be grateful for all we have. It was those words spoken by my father that changed the course of my life at nine-years-old. As we sat down to the dinner table one night my father explained that we should be grateful that we had a healthy meal to eat every night. He explained that there were families who were not able to put food on their tables therefore going to bed hungry. It was at that moment that I decided to donate the cabbage I had been growing to a soup kitchen. I was thankful for what I had, and if I could help someone who did not have enough to eat I wanted to share. Being grateful for what my family and I had changed my life.
I will never forget the day I donated my cabbage to Tri County Family Ministries. There were so many people waiting in line for what may have been the only meal that they would have that day. My 40 pound cabbage drew a lot of attention from the individuals waiting on line. The questions began, "Did you grow that?", "How big is that cabbage?", "Is that for us?" The answer was yes, my cabbage was no longer, 'my cabbage', it was their cabbage. This cabbage was for them. What they said next made all the difference in the world, they said 'thank you'. They expressed how grateful they were for what I, a very little girl, was doing for them. Their words were powerful. Their words made what I did next the easiest decision of my life. I started a garden to help to continue to fed the families that were struggling to put food on their tables.
I could never have imagined five years ago how those events would change my life. My gratitude for what I had, their gratitude for what I was able to give them, changed my life. The power of 'Thank You' is life changing.
As I move forward in my life I never will forget how powerful those words can be. I know I may never be able to thank everyone who has helped and support Katie’s Krops, but I will try because I know the impact of those two words.
So thank you to everyone who has ever helped Katie’s Krops, thank you for your support and donations, and thank you for believing in a fourteen year old and her dream.
Tonight Great American Country will air an episode of 'Great American Heroes' with Trace Adkins featuring Katie's Krops. I am beyond honored that they would consider me a hero but the truth is I am just following my heart, following my dream to end hunger one vegetable garden at a time. The real heroes are my friends, my family, my grantees and my supporters who believe in me and my dream.
Who are these heroes? My heroes are Miss. Lisa my Master Gardener who has been by my side teaching me everything I know about gardening since I was in the 4th grade. Mr. Bob & Miss. Linda who have opened their farm and the hearts to me and to Katie's Krops. They have even allowed a 48 foot greenhouse to become part of their landscape. There are the wonderful people at Summerville Baptist Church who, a year ago, took a chance on a young girl and her friends who said they wanted, they needed, to feed people in need in the community by hosting free healthy meals. They agreed and opened their kitchen, their Fellowship Hall and their hearts to Katie's Krops and the community and now we feed over 100 people in need in their church every month.
Miss. Cory, my former 6th grade science teacher is my hero. She left her job and followed her heart to Katie's Krops where she is now the Direction of Education for Katie's Krops. What do we pay her? Miss. Cory gets paid in smiles and hugs. She is my hero for being so courageous.
There is Mrs. Jewel, who one night sat back and watched as her son finished volunteering at a Katie's Krops Holiday Dinner. She loved what she saw and stepped up to help the very next day. She has not stopped since and has become a very important part of the Katie's Krops family.
My friends at Bonnie Plants are my heroes for starting the 'Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program'. Your tiny cabbage seedling started my dream. You are my hero for allowing kids across the country to grow.
Mr. McNeill, the Director of Food Service at Pinewood Prep, is a hero to us all. Two years ago he agreed to help me and my friends with our very first Katie's Krops Dinner. We started by feeding 40 people and now we are feeding over 140. He guides us in the kitchen and has taught us all how to be amazing chefs.
If a school can be a hero than Pinewood Prep, my school, deserves that honor. They took a chance on a 4th grader who had a big dream and granted her a plot of land the length of a football field to start a garden to feed people in need. Four years later that garden is growing strong and producing a beautiful harvest for our community.
My grantees, kids ages 9 to 16, who took up the challenge to start vegetables gardens in their communities to help feed their neighbors, their friends, the families who are struggling to eat in these challenging times, they are my heroes. I know firsthand how much time and energy it takes to grow a garden but these kids do it and they do it with a smile on their face. Why do they grow? Because they too share a dream, a dream that kids can end hunger one vegetable garden at a time.
My heroes are the people who make donations to the not-for-profit of a young girl with a big dream. We couldn't grow without you. We are thankful for the people who send a $5 bill in the mail, to the wonderful people at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery who sent 700 blueberry bushes. I am overjoyed at the children who forgo birthday gifts at their parties and ask for donations to Katie's Krops instead. I so grateful that their are wonderful men in Colorado who would pack up a semi truck with a 48 foot greenhouse and 18 pallets of MojoGro and fly to South Carolina to meet that truck and help us build that greenhouse. Thank you for supporting our efforts. You are my heroes!
Mr. Don is my hero. He heard me speak at an event at Epcot, The Magic of Healthy Living the Weekend, and did not just listen to what I had to say he took action. He connected Katie's Krops with a support system that has allowed Katie's Krops grow and grow. Thank you Mr. Don for not just listening but for stepping up to help. You are my hero.
My amazing friends are my heroes. I love them with all my heart. They grow with me, cook with me, laugh with me and make my dreams a reality. I have the very best friends a girl could ever dream of. The best part...their parents are right there, by their side, helping us plant, helping wash dishes at every Katie's Krops Dinner, and since we are all too young to drive they make sure that we have rides to every garden, every dinner and every soup kitchen. To all of my friends parents, you are my heroes.
Lastly there is my family. How do I describe how grateful I am to have such an amazing family! My parents always work so hard, going out to work in the garden at crazy hours of the morning. My family goes to every dinner, every garden work day and could not be more supportive. Without all the hard work my family puts in Katie's Krops would be entirely different. Without their belief in my dream, Katie's Krops would not be here today.
There are so many more people who are my heroes. They are the people who believed in a little girl with a big dream and never said, 'she is too young' or 'she wants to do what?'. These people said 'how can we help' and did. You are all my heroes and I hope you all you all know how much I appreciate your support and your help. These are the people who are My Great American Heroes!
So far so good. I thought this would be something that was easy. But much to
my surprise it was hard and easy. The items we chose to grow were,
strawberries, greens, tomatoes, brocollie, cauliflower, cucumbers, egg plant,
squash, celery, mint tea, cabbage and okra. When the project got started I told
as many people I could think of. Among the helpers were my mom, dad, sisters,
aunts, uncles and some close friends. So far I have learned the importance of
being consistent with maintaining the garden. I did not know that there were so
many people who liked to garden and eat things that they grew themselves. My
mom has especially been a big help. She gives me some of her growing tips which
have helped as well. While setting up the garden my mom suggested that we try
to make some rain barrels to conserve water. We had talked about it before we
got started but I was not to interested at first. But when my dad said he would
help me make them, we started and I have not stopped yet. Now we have barrels
that equal up to about 160 gallons of water so far. The other thing that was
great is that I did a little looking around on the internet and ordered insects
that would help to take care of the pest problem so the fruits and vegetables
My name is Nate and I got a Katie’s Krops grant to grow a garden beside my parents garden at home to donate to those in need. About the time we started planting, the food bank partnered with a girl scout to plant a garden as her gold project. The food bank had not budgeted any money for the garden and they were having a hard time getting tools to start things off. My parents already had most of what I needed for my garden, so I donated the remainder of by grant to the food bank garden (it was almost the whole thing – we had not spent much yet). The girl scout met with the local Lowe’s manager and he offered to let her buy supplies ‘at cost’ to help her project. So she used my gift card and bought A LOT of supplies that we needed (hoses, tools, plants, etc). She was able to more than double the money buying ‘at cost.’ We had the first planting day at the food bank and 40 volunteers came. We have planted corn, green beans, squash, cucumbers, cabbage, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, black eye peas and herbs so far. All the volunteers donated extra seeds so we haven’t had to buy any. We now use facebook to let the volunteers know what is going on and ask for help with weeding, etc. Other girl scout troops have volunteered to make plant marker signs, potting tables, and other projects the garden will need. The food will go to those who need it and school groups can come in and learn about healthy eating and growing your own food. And I still have my little garden at home that I’m donating too! Thanks Katie!
This blog will not be easy for me to write. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but nevertheless, it breaks my heart when people make assumptions about the face of hunger and homelessness. Why am I upset? Why am I writing this blog? It's because of an email sent to me about a month ago.
Generally, emails I receive from people who hear about my work at Katie's Krops are uplifting and encouraging. Every once in awhile, I receive an email that breaks a little piece of my heart. This was one of those emails. I thought long and hard about how, and if, I would respond. I decided that my response would be this blog. Will the person who wrote the email ever see this? I doubt it. That is okay. Will I ever post this blog? I am still not sure.
I will not share the whole email, for it is far too upsetting, but I will share a small part.
" I was just wondering if anyone is ever going to take the time to tell Katie, as well-meaning as she is with her efforts, that she is wasting her time feeding the "homeless." Why not give the food grown to a much more worthy cause, like the elderly living on a very strict, fixed income who at least made an effort to make something of their lives or better, children of deadbeat parents who made bad choices instead of giving it to the people in society who made conscious choices of drugs, alcohol and chronic laziness to put themselves in the position they are in."
First, I would like for people to understand the scope of who we help at Katie's Krops. The majority of people we help with donations of healthy fresh produce from our gardens and through our dinners are not homeless. They are families, like so many who are struggling to put food on their tables because of the loss of a job, a medical condition or for a variety of other reasons. We provide healthy fresh food to hundreds of senior citizens, Veterans, and disabled individuals. Our gardens grow to assist single parents, grandparents, and great grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren. And yes, I and Katie's Krops help homeless individuals and families. I am proud that we are able to support the homeless.
This is the story of one of the homeless families that Katie's Krops has helped. This family is a face of homelessness. Two years ago on a stormy night, we met a family who had come to a Katie's Krops Dinner. The family, who has two small boys and a baby girl, had driven half way across the country for a job and the promise of a better life. When they arrived, the job was gone. They knew no one here. They had no money. They had no support system. This family was living out of their car. As the thunder boomed around us and lightning shot from the sky, the mother of this family broke down in fear, in fear for her family, in fear for her children. They had nowhere to go. The only home they had was their car. It was heart breaking.
Even though both parents found work, they struggled on and off with homelessness for over a year. They lived in their car and in a small motel room on and off. They would come to our Katie's Krops dinners, often just the dad with the kids while the mom worked the night shift at a local grocery store (when she returned from work, the dad would head out to deliver newspapers in the early hours of the morning). We helped them with food and our volunteers would assist them with clothing and shoes for the kids. On Christmas Eve, we paid for their hotel room to ensure that they had a roof over their head on Christmas morning.
Finally, after a year of being homeless, they had saved enough to secure an unfurnished house. I was so excited for them! After hearing the news, we helped them furnish the house by asking for donations of furniture on Facebook. Within three days, we had helped the family almost entirely furnish their new house. From beds to sheets, a kitchen table to dishes, our Facebook friends reached out to this family and made their house a home. It was a great feeling to know that the family had a safe place to stay. They are, they were, the face of homelessness.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. My opinion is that there are so many wonderful people who are struggling in these challenging time. Many of these people find themselves homeless. It is my great privilege to get to know these families, to call them my friends. There is one thing I do know, no e-mail will ever stop me from helping even one of them. Homeless or not, homeless hunger is still hunger and it is my dream to put an end to it.