This 92-year-old's knit hats are warming homeless people. His story will warm your heart.
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Dignity Health 2017

92-year-old Morrie Boogaart is terminally ill and bedridden, but that’s not stopping him from helping people in need.

Boogaart has skin cancer and spends every waking moment knitting warm and cozy hats that he then donates to homeless individuals. It’s a simple act of kindness and one that can have a profound and lasting effect.

All images via WZZM13.


Dubbed "The Hat Man," Boogaart told WZZM13 that he learned to knit hats back in 2001 from his daughter, Karen Lauters. Boogaart loved it. It lit a spark in him. And since then, he's been using that skill to put smiles on other people’s faces.

"They’re really warm and I make all different colors," Boogaart told Health Beat. "I do it all day and all night. I fall asleep at 11 and wake up at 2 and do it again. I’m certainly glad I can do this."

Boogaart has knitted and donated more than 8,000 hats — and counting.

Nowadays, Boogaart averages around one hat every two days. He uses a nifty hoop with set loops where he places the layers of yarn over. After a few hours of knitting (and a couple of coffee and sleep breaks in between), his work of art is completed.

From there, Boogaart’s daughter, Karen, loads up boxes and donates them to organizations such as the Salvation Army and Mel Trotter Ministries, where they are given out to individuals who are homeless.

"A winter hat means a lot to people here," Abbey Sladick, director of communications for Mel Trotter told WZZM13. "Knowing that they have something on their head that keeps them warm and was knitted with love, I think, is wonderful.

Since Boogaart’s story has gone viral, he’s received gifts from all around the world — heartfelt letters, flowers, cookies, you name it! But you know what Boogaart loves to receive the most? You guessed it — yarn to make more hats. In fact, he recently received a huge donation from a Georgia yarn company called Red Heart.

As of 2014, there were 97,642 homeless people in Michigan. Boogaart's hats aren't going to fix that, but his work is a great reminder that we can all be more compassionate and do what we can.

There are lots of ways to do something that you love while helping people in need. One Detroit business even uses arts and crafts to help the homeless through a paid training program that can lead to employment. And thanks to organizations such as Michigan's Campaign to End Homelessness, we're seeing more and more progress every day.

In fact, the number of chronically homeless individuals in Michigan decreased from 10,330 in 2014 to 6,675 in 2015. There's still a long way to go to ending homelessness altogether, but small acts by individuals, coupled with policies and programs such as providing job training, can go a long way in making a big difference down the road.

At the end of the day, Boogaart shows us that it’s all about finding your purpose and paying it forward.

He says that learning to knit was the best thing that ever happened to him. And considering what he’s done with that skill, it’s easy to see why.

Boogaart is a shining example that it’s never too late to learn something new and make an impact on others.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less