Their friendship has grown into a ministry that has supplied more than 2,000 handmade items to 11 charities across three states, and that’s just this year.
Every week during her physical therapy for knee surgery in 2008, Crystal Hathcox watched Kate Booth knit while she also underwent therapy for a knee injury.
Hathcox had learned to knit when she was much younger, but hadn’t touched the needles in years.
Booth, who had just moved to Augusta when she injured her knee in a fall, had established a ministry knitting prayer shawls in Bloomington, Wis. As she worked her craft during therapy, she reignited Hathcox’s interest. Hathcox began bringing her own supplies to therapy.
Booth shared the story of her prayer-shawl ministry with Hathcox, and they decided to start a similar ministry in Augusta. Wherever the two women went, they knitted. If anyone asked, they shared their mission and their passion.
“Our favorite morning place is Panera Bread,” Hathcox said. “We decided we’d meet the second Saturday of every month. It was just me and Kate and her daughter and my daughter.”
The manager and staff at Panera were extremely supportive, Booth said, and allowed them to use the back part of the restaurant. People began joining them.
Customers often stopped and asked them about their knitting, and started bringing their own. Or they started learning how to knit. Now, the group has nearly 100 needleworkers on roster and about 30 active members.
Grits ’N Grins, which stands for Girls Raised in the South and Girls Raised in Northern States, is not a formal, structured group. Nor is it classified as a nonprofit. They don’t solicit donations. Occasionally someone will offer a donation, which goes directly into purchasing more yarn for their projects. Most of the money for supplies comes from members’ own pockets.
They meet at Panera Bread on Robert C. Daniel Parkway on the second Saturday of every month, from 8 a.m. until noon. They also meet the fourth Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at O’Charley’s on Robert C. Daniel Parkway.
At both meetings, members work and they socialize. They joke a lot. But mostly, they work.
Since the beginning of January, members have contributed:
• 204 washcloths to homeless ministries and silent auctions for cancer benefits;
• 69 prayer shawls for ministries in Augusta and Creedmoor, N.C.;
• 585 hat and scarf sets for children for the Salvation Army and the Broad Street Ministry (1,170 pieces);
• 104 baby blankets to the Salvation Army (208 pieces);
• 25 chemo hats and turbans to various recipients in the area;
• 36 items for the Georgia Health Sciences University Cancer Center annual October auction, and;
• 325 hats to the International Seafarer Christmas Project in Charleston, S.C.
The group will gladly donate items to anyone who demonstrates a need.
“Wherever we can be of service,” Booth said.
New members are always welcome, and anyone interested in learning to knit, crochet or loom can find an enthusiastic teacher.
The only caveat is that skills learned from the group must be used to help the group meet its mission.
“Anybody who’s willing to knit for Grits ’N Grins, we will teach you whatever it is you want to know,” Booth said. This year’s big project was to try to meet the Salvation Army’s need for 2,400 baby blankets and hat and scarf sets for children newborn through 12 years old. They fell short this year, but will try again starting in January. They hope more members will join to help them reach that goal.
“It’s just amazing how these women turn out (this) quantity,” Hathcox said. “We were blown away when we actually saw the totals.”