2,000 Quilts and Counting

If you ask Carol Hagstrom why she has sewn more than 2,000 quilts for refugees resettling in Minnesota, her answer is very matter-of-fact.

Marty and Carol

Marty (L) and Carol (R)

“I just want to take care of people and this is something I can do,” said Carol.

Even though Carol believes God has given her the “gift of helps” because she can’t sit still for too long; Carol seeks no honor for making and donating around 140 quilts for Arrive Ministries each year.

“Any igaboo could make them, I just sew up and down, up and down. It doesn’t take any big skill, Alma Turney is the lady who designs the quilts so beautifully,” said Carol, who is masterful at deflecting any attention from herself.

A Devoted Duo

Carol and Alma have been working in partnership for    more than a decade. 87-year-old Alma traces and cuts out each square by hand, and Carol sews the quilts, and ties the yarn with the help of her sister and husband, Vic.

Evie Swenson, Alma Turney, Carol Hagstrom, Marty Rittman

(L-R) Evie Swenson, Alma Turney, Carol Hagstrom and Marty Rittman

“Alma is a teeny, tiny lady who you’d think a wind would blow her away. But she loves the Lord in a big way,” said Carol. And it’s their shared love of the Lord and people that motivates Alma and Carol to keep making quilts and donating them to Arrive Ministries.

Alma is so fast, that Carol has a backlog of 130 quilts ready to be sewn.

“Alma says she is going to keep me busy long after she dies. Alma’s husband believes after she suffered some recent health ailments, she is still alive today to keep designing these quilts,” said Carol.

Decades of Loving Refugees

Carol’s heart for refugees started 25 years ago while living in Bemidji, when she helped refugees find housing, dishes, beds and clothes for themselves and their families. Now that she and her husband live in Maple Grove, they often still see some of the first refugees she helped resettled.

Tadessa helping tie

A Refugee Friend Helping Carol Tie Quilts

The first man Carol helped resettle in Bemidji, moved down to the Twin Cities, and brought over a woman from Ethiopia to marry; they now have four children who love and adore Carol and Vic.

“We have four Eritrean “grandchildren.” They call us grandma and grandpa, because they don’t have any grandparents here in America,” said Carol.

“They are doing really well. Both the husband and wife work so hard. We try to give them some positive experiences with Christians, since the kids aren’t going to Sunday school. They are a wonderful presence for us,” said Carol.

Showing the Love of Jesus

Carol and Vic have also volunteered with Arrive Ministries’ Somali Adult Literacy Training (SALT) program in the past, teaching English to Somali kids in Hopkins. The Hagstroms attend Maple Ridge Church, and strongly believe in showing the love of Jesus through their interactions with refugees.


Beautiful Quilt Designed by Alma, Sewn by Carol

“When Vic and I pray together in the morning, I pray for the refugees that they’ll realize they are loved and cared for. I pray that they’ll wonder why they are being taken care of, and what motivates people to do this,” she said. “I know they are not seeing this generosity in their country. I pray that they do some investigating about why people care for them in this way.”