Local youth’s work benefits neighbor, others

Nick Anderson (left) and Huntington House manager Carolyn Ray (right) display a basket of produce donated to the Huntington House from the garden of Kathy Rao. Anderson planted the garden and helped tend the produce after Rao broke a bone in her leg. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

When Huntington County resident Kathy Rao broke a bone in her leg this spring, she thought her garden would be non-existent this year.

An 11-year-old neighbor came to her rescue, getting Rao's garden put in and making possible the delivery of a bounty of produce to the Huntington House, a local women's shelter.

"She called me over and said, ‘Hey, you want to come help me?'" says Nick Anderson, recounting the beginning of the project.

Anderson showed up at Rao's garden, just around the corner from his house, to hoe the plot - about the size of a large room, he says -and plant seeds and seedlings. Later in the season, he did a little weeding and tied the tomato plants to their support poles.

"She told me what to do," Anderson says. "But I already knew how to hoe."

"He loves getting down and dirty," his sister, Elizabeth Anderson, says.

"She was so thankful he could come over and get it in," Anderson's mom, Krista Anderson, says.

"Because of Nick's outstanding work ethic, enough garden produce was harvested to donate to a local charity," Rao wrote in a letter explaining the project.

The garden yielded tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, summer squash and okra - a vegetable Anderson says was new to him.

Some of the vegetables - along with recipes - were delivered to Huntington House, where manager Carolyn Ray says the residents plan to cook them up.

"It will just be wonderful to have nice fresh veggies," Ray says.

Anderson says it's a project he'd be willing to repeat.
"It's fun," he says. "It was really not that much work."