photograph by Jerry Wolford & Scott Muthersbaugh

In the 1980s, when Jo Boone and her late mother left work at Broughton Hospital in Morganton, they felt for the homeless people they encountered on the dark streets. So the women began crocheting hats in bright oranges, yellows, and greens — colors that would be most visible at night. They hung some from trees where they could be easily grabbed, and took others to shelters. Friends joined the cause, and now, every Friday at lunchtime, you’ll find the “Catawba Crafters” around the community table at Lowes Foods in Hickory, crocheting things like medical bags for people in Haiti, and wheelchair shawls — shorter, with no fringe to catch in wheels. The group still makes hats, which Jo sometimes delivers directly to the homeless themselves. “They trust me,” she says of the people she still helps after all these years.

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Susan Stafford Kelly was raised in Rutherfordton. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a Master of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College. She is the author of Carolina Classics, a collection of essays that have appeared in Our State, and five novels: How Close We Come, Even Now, The Last of Something, Now You Know, and By Accident. Susan has three grown children and lives in Greensboro with her husband, Sterling.