GRANDVILLE, MICH. - It's a story that has literally gone around the world. A bedridden man in Grandville, Michigan, faced with terminal cancer, spending all of his remaining days knitting hats for the homeless.
Since our story about Morrie Boogaart's generosity aired in November of last year, it went viral, and the "Hat Man" has been receiving skeins of yarn from people in various countries, like Turkey and Germany.
A yarn company based in Albany, Georgia reached out to WZZM right after Christmas saying it had seen the story and wanted to make a yarn donation to Mr. Boogaart.
Red Heart Yarn sent a box full of yarn to WZZM, which we then delivered to Mr. Boogaart Thursday morning, at Cambridge Manor Assisted Living Facility.
"I can't imagine this is continuing to happen," said Boogaart, after he saw all the skeins of yarn Red Heart sent him. "I get yarn donations from all over the world.
"I just wish I could knit the hats faster so I could keep up with all the yarn that's being donated to me."
Representatives at Red Heart Yarn say they found out about Mr. Boogaart's story on social media.
"I saw the story story on Facebook after a friend shared it with me," said Susan Klutz, customer service supervisor for Red Heart Yarn. "We were all moved by Morrie's tenacity, given what's he's facing, and felt we needed to do something for him."
Boogaart has knitted more than 8,000 hats, finishing two per day. All of them have been donated to homeless shelters around the Grand Rapids area.
"The intent from the beginning was to give him something to do," said Karen Lauters, Morrie's daughter. "I amazed at how this is continuing to touch people's lives and inspire them.
"I have found that the yarn and cards, that have been sent to my dad, have lifted his spirit and given him a greater sense of purpose."
Boogaart has skin cancer, and was recently in Hospice care. The family decided not to pursue any additional methods to prolong his life. Boogaart continued to knit hats while in Hospice, but his conditioned never worsened. He was eventually taken out of Hospice care, and had maintained the same level of health for the past several months, allowing him to continue to knit hats.
"I'm going to do this until I go home to the Lord," said Boogaart. "But he's not taking me yet; he says you have to stay."
Morrie Boogaart celebrated his 92nd birthday on January 2, 2017. His continued serving of the Grand Rapids' community, by knitting hats for the homeless, has earned him a nomination for the LAHC Humanitarian Award. He'll find out if he won it when the announcement is made in Dearborn, Michigan on April 6.
(© 2017 WZZM)