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Tragedy Motivates Mother and Daughter to Share Hope

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When 81-year-old Margaret Herrema died after a senseless purse-snatching in 2005, her daughter and granddaughter chose to respond to their grief in a positive way.

Carol Peters (left) and Carin Vogelzang started Margaret’s Hope Chest in honor of Margaret Herrema.

Inspired by Romans 12:12-13, Carol Peters and Carin Vogelzang decided to honor the memory of their mother and grandmother by donating quilts in her name to people facing hopeless situations.

Peters and Vogelzang, both members of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. began Margaret’s Hope Chest in 2007. “I’d heard someone say that if you want to help people, you should do what you are passionate about,” said Vogelzang, “At that time I was passionate about quilting.”

As the quilting idea was coming together, Vogelzang read an article about Renita Norwood, the mother of one of the women responsible for Herrema’s death. She was struggling with the incarceration of both her children. “Who are we going to give hope to?” asked Vogelzang “Let’s start with her.” So Norwood received the first donated quilt that summer.

Progress for Margaret’s Hope Chest was slow. Vogelzang started a blog but felt like she was writing to herself. At the end of the first two years, about 20 quilts had been donated.

An online connection helped Margaret’s Hope Chest to donate more than 400 quilts to children in a homeless program with Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Peters and Vogelzang now have a circle of faithful women connected online. They fulfill requests for donated quilts within six to seven hours of posting a project. Recent donation recipients include children at an orphanage in Honduras and children of prisoners. The organization is currently working to provide quilts to postpartum mothers through a program at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.

For Vogelzang, an experienced quilter with a busy life, a single quilt takes a week of steady work—about three hours a day—to complete. The organization recently donated its 1,700th quilt. “We are two small people with very busy lives and a small budget,” she said. “This is God’s story, not ours.”

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