Kentucky second-grader raises thousands for missions with cans, baked goods


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) — A heart devoted to giving to missions is nothing new for second-grader Catherine Coaty, exemplifying the message of Isaiah 11:6: “And a little child shall lead them.”

For the past three years, the youngster has been a catalyst to fuel passion for missions giving at GracePointe Baptist Church. Since last February, she has raised and given $3,224 to missions.

Catherine raises money by collecting soft drink cans for recycling and baking goods. She looks for empty aluminum cans everywhere she can, including getting empty cans from the Kentucky Baptist Convention building.

Her history of missions giving goes back three years when, at age 4, she heard GracePointe ask for pledges for its missions giving program. Her parents, Jon and Jess, explained it, and she was emphatic that she wanted a goal for herself — not one linked to her parents.

“I tried to talk her into pledging $25,” said Jess. “But she said no and set her goal for $100. I explained that is a lot of money, and that we were not going to just give her the money, but she would have to figure out ways to earn it.”

In that process, the family noticed discarded aluminum cans around their neighborhood. The thought came to collect aluminum cans, take them to a recycling center and use the money they received for the cans and donate it to missions. “Catherine tells everyone: ‘You can do something and every can counts,’” said Jess.

Collecting cans and redeeming them for money to give to missions sparked others at GracePointe to be more intentional toward missions giving. “It absolutely caught fire in our church,” Jess said. “She ended up giving $1,100 by collecting cans to recycle and baking things. We keep the back seat in our van folded down, and when we left church yesterday, the van was completely full with cans.”

The next year, as a kindergartener, Catherine told her parents she wanted to give $2,000, an idea which immediately caused her mother to think, “There’s no way we can come up with that.” And her mother wrestled with how to tell her daughter about being realistic, knowing how disappointed Catherine would be if the goal wasn’t met.

Catherine’s reply: “Jesus said, that’s a two with three zeroes.” And she met the goal.

That set the stage for this past year when more than $3,000 was raised.

“We take the cans to Waddell’s Auto and Scrap Metal Recycling and Parts in Elizabethtown,” Jess said. “Mr. Waddell is a Christian, and he found out about Catherine. Mr. Waddell is very generous to her with his donations — he is a giant part of us being able to give what we give. And they act like she is the president of the world when we arrive. The front door has signs saying ‘Employees Only,’ but she doesn’t knock — she just goes in.”

Collecting cans for recycling isn’t her only means to raise funds. “We always try to help her think of things to do in addition to the cans,” Jess said. “She has done brownies, muffins, cobblers — there is stuff that she can do. We want our kids to be capable people — she can mix oil, water and eggs, and I help her with the oven.”

Jess said Catherine’s passion and excitement about giving to missions is contagious at GracePointe. “It’s so precious because she doesn’t understand why everyone is not doing this. It is so convicting that this little girl is doing what she can do and that everybody ought to do what they can do. She knows that Jesus told everybody to go, and this is how we can do it. She said everybody can find something to do.”

Catherine’s brother, 3-year-old Clayton, is usually seen right alongside her at the recycling center. “He just tags right along,” noted Jess. “It’s an insane number of cans — she has brought in for recycling more than one ton of aluminum cans.” To put that in perspective, it takes 20 to 30 cans to total one pound.

Catherine’s fervor for the Lord’s work is not limited to missions giving. “When we go to outreach, she goes with me. She will knock on anybody’s door and ask them if they know Jesus.”