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

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.