KIRKWOOD, Mo. — Katie Hastings honored her grandmother and helped lift a family out of poverty at Christmas — with her “famous” pies.
Ten-year-old Katie learned to make pecan pies around Thanksgiving in 2012, and baked a few for the family. She used her grandmother’s filling recipe, and found a recipe for piecrust online.
When the youth group at Kirkwood Baptist Church, where Katie and her family are members, decided to host a pie auction as a fundraiser, Katie was ready to contribute her skill. That event turned out to be the second most-profitable fundraiser for the group.
For the 2013 holiday season, several of those who had sampled the tasty treats had already approached her about making pies. The requests started her thinking — maybe she could help others as she filled the orders.
Katie learned about Heifer International through a Kirkwood member who makes fudge to sell. The not-for-profit organization provides sustainable agriculture with farm animals and training to communities with a history of poverty.
Through gifts to the organization, Heifer International provides animals to families to help them become self-reliant. Each family that receives a gift is asked to share the training they receive and to give the first female born among the livestock to another family to help them get started.
“I thought it would be a cool thing to do,” Katie said.
After checking out Heifer International’s gift catalog, she decided to work toward raising enough with her pies to buy a goat for a family at a cost of $120. She figured she would have time to make 24, and set the price at $12 each.
Word about Katie’s endeavor quickly spread through the church. Thirty-one orders came in, and Katie and her mom, Mary, set up a schedule to get the pies made in the midst of hectic personal and family schedules.
In addition to schoolwork, the fifth-grader is a gymnast who practices at least 20 hours a week.
“I think it was more work than she thought it would be,” said Hastings, an assistant professor of physical therapy and of orthopedic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The most difficult aspect of pie making, Katie conceded, is in getting the crust “just right.” “You have to leave the butter chunky,” she explained.
The family had given Hastings a food processor for her birthday, which “made it easier to make the crust,” Katie added.
Mother and daughter set to work, making the crust one day, then made pies “and then made some more,” Katie said.
“Katie and I were a good tag-team.... We got an assembly line going,” Hastings said. “But I think we made about as many as we were able to.”
Not only did church members buy pies. They also donated to the cause, doubling Katie’s goal and providing $240 for the project.
Partly because she had just learned to crochet and partly because of the increased donation, Katie took a second look at the Heifer International gift catalog. “I was going to buy a goat but I looked through the catalog and thought a sheep would be cool because they could use the wool,” she said.
She also was able to buy two hope baskets, which included geese, ducks and chicks. A bunch of her friends have chickens, and she “thought it would be good because I love chickens,” she added.
Although she conceded she is “sort of done making pecan pies” for a while, Katie plans to continue creating them during the Christmas holidays to make a difference in someone’s life.
One day, she may help the planet. She loves science and math and hopes to become a marine biologist.