BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WKRG) — 20 years ago, Bay Minette native Edith Perkins’ sister, Betty Rochester, was diagnosed with cancer.

Looking for ways to cope, Perkins, picked up a crochet needle and never looked back.

“My sister had cancer, and her hair began to fall out,” Perkins said. “I grabbed some yarn – I had never made a hat – but I made a perfect hat. That was 20 years ago, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

At that point, Perkins was living in Delaware. After 50 years of living away from home, she came back to Bay Minette nearly a decade ago and continued her hobby.

She said she’s now given away nearly 8,000 hats. They’ve gone to cancer patients, nursing homes and even Ukraine. Perkins has even made afghans and another 1,000 masks to distribute.

In 2022, she distributed roughly 800 hats to locations including Oakwood-North Baldwin’s Center for Living, Tiger Den and the Southern Cancer Clinic in Daphne. She also sends some to Delaware, and she’ll hand them out to people she walks by.

She said making and distributing the hats makes her happy and provides comfort to her as she can bring warmth to those in trying times.

“When I see people wearing them, a lot of people going through cancer, a small like giving them a hat helps brighten up their whole day,” she said.

Perkins, now 78 years old, isn’t looking to stop giving back any time soon.

“I would rather give than receive,” she said. “I am so blessed.”