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What Inspires a 14-year-old to be a Volunteer

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Katie explains the source of her inspiration—what keeps her going in her quest to help improve the lives of others in need.

Thank-you notes are left on paper tablecloths.

By Katie Stagliano

“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.” ��� Kalu Ndukwe Kalu

A young gardener planting.

Why at 14 do I dedicate my life to helping feed those in need? Because of the inspiration that is growing all around me.

Have you ever watched 5-year-olds dig in the garden, tickling the roots of a tomato seedling, burying it in the earth with their tiny hands? I have had the great honor of watching very young gardeners experience the magic that happens in a garden: Their giddy excitement as they watch tiny tomatoes beginning to form on the yellow blossoms, and the sense of accomplishment they receive when harvesting the small, red fruits. Their enthusiasm, their excitement, the pride these young children have from growing—that is what inspires me.

A basket of tomatoes can excite a young gardener.

Watching the smile on the face of an elderly man as I serve him a meal, knowing he may not have had anything to eat that day. The Katie’s Krops dinners we serve to families in need. Young children, senior citizens, disabled individuals, and families facing illness and job loss coming together and sharing a dinner table. Watching as we not only nurture their bodies but their souls. That is what inspires me.

Katie at table with her “Krops.”

At only 14 years of age, I am able to help a struggling family alleviate the stress of putting food on the table every night. That means the world to me. That keeps me growing. At the end of the meal, as we clean the dining room, we find a small child has composed little notes on the paper tablecloths: “Thank you Katie for feeding my family” or “Thank you Katie for not letting me go hungry.” I know I’m making a difference in their lives. That inspires me to want to do more. To help even more families in need.

When an individual is struggling with a life-threatening disease such as cancer, eating healthy is crucial. A patient needs healthy, fresh, nutrient-rich food in order for their body to fight the disease. With mounting medical bills, with family members taking time off from work to care for patients, it can be a huge challenge to eat healthy because patients simply can’t afford to. When I am able to give them a basket of freshly harvested vegetables, I know that I am growing a true “farmacy” to help them win their battle against cancer.

I’ve always believed that actions speak louder than words. That age is just a number, not a barrier. I hope that people are inspired by my actions as much as I am inspired by the inspiration that grows all around me.