American Profile | S.C. Girl Finds Goodness in Gardening

 by Sandy Summers August 2, 2011

Katie Stagliano, 13, gives new meaning to the word sharecropper.

The founder of Katie’s Krops oversees six gardens that have produced tons of vegetables for soup kitchens and other charitable organizations in and around her hometown of Summerville, S.C. (pop. 43,392).

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AOL The Top 10 Good News Stories of 2010

The Top 10 (Well, 11 and Then Some) Good News Stories of 2010


AOL News

This was a year that tested Americans’ already-thin patience.

Though we were told that the recession, in fact, ended last year, it was frankly hard to believe. Unemployment refused to budge, the summer and fall were dominated by rancorous midterm elections, and gasoline hit $3 a gallon, just in time for the holidays.

Many of us might be heaving a sigh of relief that 2010 is showing itself the door, but it wasn’t all bad. Despite the gloomy economic news that spread across the globe — and even, in some cases, because of it — people everywhere continued to do incredible, inspiring things.

The 33 Chilean miners pose with President Sebastian Pinera.

José Manuel de la Maza, AFP/Getty Images
The world sent up a collective cheer when the last of the miners was brought to safety from the San Jose mine in Chile in October. Here they pose for photos in the hospital with President Sebastian Pinera.

There were the 33 Chilean miners who thrilled the world when they were rescued alive, miraculously, after 69 days underground. One of the three American hikers detailed in Iran for more than a year was freed.

A group of the richest people on the planet pledged to give away the majority of their wealth to charity. Closer to home, some did great deeds for the benefit of others; some conquered goals that mattered to no one but themselves. Some did nothing more heroic than being good neighbors — no big deal, maybe, but encouraging in its own way.

Here are a handful of our favorite positive stories of 2010, as chosen by AOL’s Good News staff. And a happy 2011 to you all.

1. These Kids Are All Right

Young people continued to amaze us with their selflessness and passion. We came across so many kids with an inspirational sense of mission that we had trouble selecting just a few.

There was Katie Stagliano, a sixth-grader from Summerville, S.C., whose nonprofit, Katie’s Krops, has delivered more than a ton of vegetables to soup kitchens. She tends six gardens — including a football-sized plot given to her by her school — that supply produce to food pantries.

Zach Bonner, 12, of Tampa, Fla., leads supporters past the historic Carousel on the Santa Monica Pier

Reed Saxon, AP
Zach Bonner leads supporters past the historic carousel on the Santa Monica Pier in California on Sept. 14 during the last mile of his nearly 2,500-mile "March Across America" to raise awareness of and funds for homeless children and teens.

And Zach Bonner, another 12-year-old philanthropist. After Hurricane Charley struck his hometown of Tampa, Fla., in 2004, Zach helped out his neighbors by distributing bottled water and other supplies from his little red wagon. Through his Little Red Wagon foundation, Zach has made advocating for homeless youth his personal mission. This September, Zach completed a 2,478-mile March Across America, which took him from Tampa to Los Angeles and took him more than five months. Just days after finishing the walk, Zach started directing a mini-documentary about ending homelessness for the estimated 1.3 million young people living without shelter in America.

In the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, government agencies, large corporations and relief organizations all mobilized, but in an atmosphere of accusations and recriminations. One 11-year-old girl on Long Island set about saving birds with her paintbrush. BRANDed Management

Olivia Bouler teamed up with the Audubon Society to raise money for the Gulf of Mexico cleanup effort with her bird paintings. When bird-lover Olivia Bouler heard about the spill, she contacted the Audubon Society and asked if she could help raise money for the cleanup effort with her bird paintings. Thus began her "Save the Gulf" campaign, where she sent an original watercolor to anyone who made a donation.  "I really needed to do something," Olivia said. When AOL heard about her efforts, it teamed up with the young painter, making her one of its AOL Artists and together raising $150,000 for Audubon.


Disney Film Crew Visits Pinewood Garden

 Disney film crew visits Pinewood garden

Published Friday, November 26, 2010 11:12 AM

By Stefan Rogenmoser
Summerville Journal Scene ®

On Nov. 12 the garden behind Pinewood Preparatory School looked more like a Hollywood movie set than a place to learn. Boom stands, mirrors, reflectors, deflectors, diffusers, big video cameras, microphones on boom stands, a camouflage net and props. A Disney film crew of about 30 people showed up to record the show “Friends For Change.” Disney actors Kelsey Chow and Doc Shaw from the show “Pair Of Kings” were present, as were several Pinewood students, including Katie Stagliano. Crews filmed Kaite and her classmates candidly planting and watering crops with the Disney stars. Director Michael Blum, wearing black jeans and a t-shirt, gathered the class in a group to shout “Friends For Change” after Katie, Chow and Shaw – standing in front— did about five takes of a promotional standup for the show. Between takes Summerville hair stylist Joyce Gilliard and New York make-up artist G.G. Collins – originally from Charleston – touched up the faces and hair of Chow and Shaw. The episode featuring Katie’s Krops is set to air in January. The Friends For Change Grants fund kids’ projects that help the environment and engage children ages 5 – 18 as leaders in their communities. Disney, working with YSA, awards 150 $500 grants each year. Katie is one of its recipients. The show is part of Disney’s “Project Green,” which is focused on the environment, said Bryan Weber of Disney’s Friends For Change. “Katie applied for Disney’s Friends For Change grant. Her story just jumped off the page. We’re here to tell the story of a real kid in action.” “I didn’t imagine any of this would ever happen,” Katie said. “It’s been a wild ride. It’s been a lot of fun. They’re here to highlight the Friends For Change grant, which has helped Katie’s Krops. They’re really awesome people.” Katie said they planted rows of crops and let ladybugs loose to fight off insects that might eat the crops. Katie hopes her actions will inspire other kids to follow their dreams, she said. “My dad always told me not to waste.” Pinewood Headmaster Glyn Cowlishaw said the garden shows how committed the school is to community service. “Katie and others have shown there are people less fortunate than themselves and have produced thousands and pounds of food for them.” Cowlishaw said teachers and students are heavily involved with the garden, which is a “classroom without walls.” “The Friends For Change people have been so helpful,” Stacy Stagliano, Katie’s mother, said. “It’s people like them that make this happen. I’m in absolute awe.” “Katie is very inspiring,” Chow said. “It’s important to let them know you can do so much in the community and around the world.” The Friends For Change promotion has showed kids that Disney actors are no higher than anyone else, Shaw said. “(Katie’s) really mature for her age. I’m glad to see young minds get involved.”



Tonic Magazine – From Seedlings to Servings: 11-Year-Old Grows Tons of Veggies for the Homeless

From Seedlings to Servings: 11 Year Old Grows Tons of Veggies for the Homeless

By: Diane Herbst

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.

katie.jpgWhen 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."

katieportrait.jpgKatie 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 4, 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.’"

As a third grader, upset about a local drought, Katie decided her school, Pinewood Prep, needed to conserve water. Katie wrote the headmaster over Christmas break, suggesting how the school could better conserve. Soon after, the high school’s advanced placement environmental studies teacher called to meet with her and work on a water conservation project. Katie’s suggestions for rain barrels to catch water and other ideas were soon implemented throughout the school. "As a parent, I am so moved," says Stacy. "I say to her, ‘I hope some day when you are a parent, you have a kid who is as amazing as you so you can see it from a mom’s perspective.’"katieandfriends.jpg

Much of the thanks goes to Stacy and Katie’s devoted group of helpers, including her 7-year-old brother, John Michael, who has toiled in two of the gardens to plan pumpkin patches.

Since February of last year, master gardener Lisa Turocy has not only sat shoulder to shoulder with Katie planting and giving advice, she’s transformed her entire front yard into a garden with 600 seedlings. "If I can help her change the world," says Turocy, "that’s awesome."

Locals Linda and Bob Baker, golf professionals with 41 acres of farmland set along a rutted dirt road on the outskirts of Summerville, gave Katie some acreage for a garden. Bob lugged his John Deer tractor to Katie’s school to till the soil, and taught Katie how to drive the machine. Says Bob: "It makes you feel so good to see someone that young with that amount of compassion, step in there and really make a difference."

As one of Katie’s best friends told Tonic, most kids their age mainly like to watch TV and play on computers; they don’t like to do what Katie does. Another friend, Anna Semar, 11, inspired by Katie to grow her own vegetable garden, says: "If there were more people like Katie the world would be a better place."

Katie wants to get more kids across the country growing gardens to help others, so she’s holding a contest and offering the winners a grant. And, Katie will come and help start each garden. Click here to apply.

If you want to donate to Katie’s nonprofit, Katie’s Krops, she needs money for irrigation equipment, fertilizer and other supplies for her six gardens.


Photos courtesy of Katie Stagliano.