MISSOULA — While the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, we know that tourists will continue visiting the state of Montana.
But thanks to a new initiative by the Montana Department of Commerce, those tourists will now be “masked up.”
The “Montana Aware” initiative will distribute 25,000 masks to Montana’s convention and visitor bureaus and tourism regions. The goal is to promote safe travel this fall.
Making the masks are six members of the Made in Montana program, and one of the six mask makers is East Missoula’s Vida Anderson.
Anderson pivoted her daycare operation back in May to focus on sewing and selling masks to sustain her family through the pandemic.
She runs her own online craft shop, 406 Creative Vibe, which has taken off since moving to masks full-time.
She’ll be contributing 5,000 masks for the “Montana Aware" initiative, and this is in addition to the nearly 9,000 masks she’s already made.
“Yesterday I tacked and pleated 350 masks,” Anderson joked from the basement of her home which has now become a mass mask making operation.
She’s buying fabric by the bolt, recruiting her husband and kids to help, and producing 150 to 200 masks each day.“Now it's dialed in. This is just what I do.”
By the end of October, her bundle of 5,000 masks will be expected at visitor centers and tourism regions across the state.
“I do take very seriously keeping myself and my family safe because I feel like I have an obligation to do that,” said Anderson.
“I'm sending these out into the world and somebody else is gonna be using them so we have not done any traveling and we've kept to ourselves and, you know, fishing down the river. That's about it.
For Anderson, the sacrifice is worth it.“I feel I’m a part of something bigger.”
Anderson’s masks come in various patterns and colors. You can find them online.