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Giving Back, one stitch at a time

Norine Crary spends most of her time in her room at a Syracuse assisted living facility, but her mission is to give to children, which she does in a big way, one stitch at a time.

Lots of Syracuse children will be wearing colorful new winter hats for the rest of our cold season, thanks to the single-handed efforts of an 80-year-old woman who tells us she loves to give to the children, because sometimes they're a little forgotten.

Her mission is about a lot more than keeping them warm.

We were introduced to Norine Crary through a phone call to the newsroom, telling us she'd made 'some hats' and wanted to know where to send them. We told her we'd do some research and get back to her. A few days later, coming into the CNYCentral Newsroom, 3 large grocery bags were sent to the newsroom with a hand written 'from Norine' note.

We'd checked with United Way for suggestions of where to send the donations, and Tuesday morning delivered hats to Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, which will distribute about half the hats to children in need at neighborhood centers in Syracuse.

"We do get a lot of gifts around Christmas, which is wonderful." Bridget Dunn tells us, "but yeah, the need doesn't end with the holidays."

The children are getting more than something to keep them warm. "We'll put them out and then we'll let the kids choose what they like," Denise Headd, also at Catholic Charities, told us. "So, it becomes personal to the child."

We saw that first time, as we delivered the first batch of hats last week, to Catholic Charities' Vincent House. We set all the hats out on a long table and let the 3 year olds in a pre-K class pick their favorite colors, shapes and sizes. It was clear they were thrilled with 'their' new hats.

After the stop at Catholic Charities, photojournalist Andy Wolf and I went to Sedgwick Heights Assisted Living, on Syracuse's James Street, where Norine has lived for almost 18 years, most of the time spent in her small apartment--she even eats her meals in her room, which has shelves full of bright-colored yarns.

Norine tells us she knit three hats a day for 'our' project, after seeing our Christmastime news story about hat and mitten donations. She figured if she filled bags with hats, she'd find someone to help get them out.

The hats are not the first thing that Norine's left with us. "The Marines were picking up all kinds of toys," she tells us of a Toys for Tots dropoff at CNYCentral, "and I thought young girls should have something, so I crocheted something.

And she's still crocheting! "I'm gonna see to it that more is done," she told us this afternoon. Just because you're 80, you don't stop."

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