Disciples News Service

Twelve year old planting, inspiring and growing a ministry

Katie Goodman, 12 years old and an avid 4H participant, set her sights on the problem of hunger in her community of Ashland, Va. After doing a public speaking assignment on childhood hunger in December of 2010, she began collecting food for hungry children set the goal of feeding 1100 people in 2011. She met that goal in 6 months and served nearly double the number in that year alone. Her current goal for 2012 is to feed 3000 people.

Goodman accomplishes this with food from her own garden, but also by leading. The confident young woman began giving presentations to adult groups around town, appealing to organizations like Plant a Row for the Hungry, Hunters for the Hungry, area schools, local gardeners and, of course, her church, Independence Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She even arranged for donation drop-off centers at local feed stores. Not only has she received more food than expected, but the contribution of fresh produce provides valuable nutrition at the local food banks. 

“Since starting my project, I have learned that it does not have to cost a lot to help someone in need, that there are a lot of people in our community ready to help and that just because I am young, does not mean that I cannot make a difference,” said Goodman.

She won Hanover County’s Youth Spirit of Volunteerism Award which led to her winning the Governors Community Service and Volunteerism Award for Outstanding Youth Volunteer, among others. 

Katie continues to collect food for her local community, but she is also learning about the global issues of hunger. As a life-long Disciple she is already familiar with the work of Week of Compassion and is now learning more about groups that are supported by the Disciples, such as Food Resource Bank. In July Katie will attend a meeting at the White House to learn more about how her community and her church can be involved in the larger efforts of easing childhood hunger. Think what she’ll be doing at 24!

In her own words ….

(Goodman uses this speech for her public speaking engagements.)

Hello, my name is Katie Goodman. I am 12 years old and a junior member of the South Anna 4H in Hanover County.  Today I would like to share my 4H project with you.

In December of 2010 I participated in a public speaking contest. My topic was childhood hunger in America. I chose my topic because of all of the commercials I saw on TV about all the children that were hungry all over the world. After my speech, I was very sad to learn that there were over 31,000 children in the Greater Richmond area that faced hunger on a daily basis – 1,494 live in the same county I do! I decided to contact the local agencies that help the hungry in Central Virginia and see what I could do. I contacted the Central Virginia Food Bank, Plant a Row for the Hungry and Hunters for the Hungry. They all gave me great ideas on how I could help.

In January of 2011, I received my first donation from my elementary school, John M. Gandy. The food had been collected for Christmas, but because of the snow before Christmas, it was not picked up. The donation weighed 102 pounds. On the way home I came up with my goal of feeding 1100 people in 2011.

I made a list of organizations, schools and churches that I could contact to help with my project. My first presentation was to the faculty of Henry Clay Elementary School. Then I spoke with two Master Gardener Class.

I made a display board with all of the information I had collected and began to set up my booth at various locations around Hanover.

I started a Plant A Row for the Hungry Campaign in Hanover. I held my PAR kick off in April; I passed out information and signed people up to plant an extra row.  Danny Adams of the Ashland Feed Store, donated trays, soil and seeds that I used for my kick off. Anyone pledging to plant an extra row or give a monetary donation, was given a plant or seeds. To make it easy on anyone willing to help, Mr. Adams agreed to be a donation site. Gardeners left their produce at his store on Saturdays and I picked it up and delivered it to the food bank or one of the feeding programs

Any chance I could, I spoke to people about my project, and how they could help. Several organizations held canned food drives, people would give me monetary donations, I collected over 800 pounds of fresh produce and introduced people to Hunters for the Hungry.

I reached my first goal of feeding 1100 people in just 6 months, so I increased my goal to 2011; I reached this goal just 2 months later. In all, I helped to feed 2138 people in 2011.

Because of my project, I won two awards.  The first was Hanover County’s Youth Spirit of Volunteerism Award which donated  $250 dollars to the Central Virginia Food Bank in my honor.

The second award was the Hometown Hero award given by Allen, Allen, Allen and Allen.  For this award, I got to go to different celebrations around the state. There were a total of 50 Hometown Heroes and we were treated to baseball games, two concerts and a party in Charlottesville. I met many interesting people, who, like me are trying to make a difference in our community.

Because of the Hometown Hero Award, I did two live television interviews. The first was in Richmond on Channel 6’s Virginia this Morning.  The second was in Charlottesville for the local news.

This year I would like to get more children involved in helping with my project. I have made new contacts with organizations that have food pantries in Hanover County; Ashland Christian Emergency Services (ACES), Western Hanover Emergency Action Team (WHEAT) and Mechanicsville Churches Emergency Function (MCEF).  I will be working with these groups so that I know the donations I collect are helping where I live. My goal for this year is to feed 3000 people.

I have had a great start to my 2012 project year.  In November, I had one deer donated from the Hunters for the Hungry and collected enough monetary donations to cover the cost of processing and distributing 1200 pieces of meat.

In February, I was asked by Hanover County to appear in a video about volunteering. This video can be found on their website and was played at the 2012 Volunteer Awards Ceremony.

In April, I held my PAR kickoff in three locations; the Ashland Feed Store, Mechanicsville Tractor Supply and Montpelier Feed and Seed. All of these locations have agreed to be a collection site for fresh produce for the agency in their area. 

So far in 2012 I have helped 1911people in Hanover County, making my total number of people helped since starting my project 4049.

As the 2011 Spirit of Volunteerism Award winner, Hanover County submitted me for the 2012 Governors Community Service and Volunteerism Award.  On May 5, 2012 I was invited to breakfast with the Governor of Virginia, and was the youngest person to ever receive the Governors Community Service Outstanding Youth Volunteer.

Just this past week I donated 20 pounds of squash from my family’s garden to a local feeding program and have contacted The Food Services Department of Hanover County Public Schools about having fresh produce available for families of the children participating in the Summer Feeding Program at my school.

Since starting my project, I have learned that it does not have to cost a lot to help someone in need, that there are a lot of people in our community ready to help and that just because I am young, does not mean that I cannot make a difference.