Kelly Venardos, Producer, NBC Nightly News
Every so often you come upon a story that stays with you. After working at NBC News for more than 16 years, I have a few of these gems tucked away in my memory. They sustain me through the news stories that aren't necessarily pleasant or positive. Frequently, these stories involve children. This is one of them.
Ten-year-old Katie Stagliano is different than most kids her age. You know this almost immediately, because she's thinking about and devoting a lot of her time and energies to issues that most young people don't give a second thought to. Katie is worried about hungry children across America, and how she can help them.
Katie lives in Summerville, SC, and after entering a charity t-shirt design contest (http://www.amazing-kids.org/lmdtcontest08.html), her design was chosen as the winner. Katie was inspired to create the "No Hungry Children" campaign by one little cabbage seedling that she planted in her backyard -- a little plant that grew to a whopping 40 pounds! Katie knew that it could feed a lot of people, and with the help of her parents, donated the giant cabbage to a local food bank. That one cabbage helped to feed over 250 people. And it got Katie thinking... if just one cabbage could feed that many people, think of what a whole garden of vegetables could do.
Taking that "seedling" of an idea a step further, she organized her classmates and started a garden on her school's property. With teachers, students and even a Master Gardener volunteering to help, Katie has launched a garden that will soon yield enough food to feed hundreds of people. From peppers and tomatoes, to herbs and corn, there will be plenty of nutritious food for the food bank come harvest time.
After our story aired, Katie received lots of calls from people and organizations that want her to spread her good ideas in their part of the country. She's headed to Florida next month to be a part of a "Hope for the Future" black-tie banquet that will honor her work.
Just last week I received a package at my desk. It was a huge poster-sized card from Katie, thanking NBC News for coming down to South Carolina and telling her story. With her abundant creativity, the card reflects an inspired young lady who's trying to do her part to make the world a better place. I've shared the card with my colleagues, and hopefully it will soon find a place here in our newsroom, for all to see.
I'll be watching and following Katie as her garden (and her dreams) continue to grow. And I definitely want to be around when her dream comes true. I know it will. And to think... it all started with one little cabbage seedling.