Missoula family stays afloat during pandemic through mask making operation

Posted at 7:52 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 09:05:58-04

MISSOULA — Throughout the pandemic, people have learned to adapt in incredible ways.

East Missoula resident Vida Anderson is proof of that as she’s transformed her family’s home daycare into a mass mask making operation.

When Gov. Steve Bullock shut down the schools in March due to COVID-19, Anderson and her husband knew they would probably need to put a halt to the daycare operation until at least June and find another way to make ends meet in the meantime. With years of sewing experience and a demand for protective masks across the country, Anderson knew what she needed to do.

“Twenty days straight of sewing, 14 hours a day, no joke,” said Anderson.

At the start, Anderson coordinated mask making and donations for a Facebook group called Crafters Against COVID-19. Once the CDC changed its recommendation for masks to be worn by everyone in public, she started selling them through her online crafting shop.

“Then it just took off, and we were so busy we couldn’t sew fast enough," Anderson said.

All the sudden, requests were coming in from all over the country.

“We've sent them a lot to New York, to Brooklyn and the Bronx," Anderson explained. "We've sent them to Florida, Texas, Indiana, a lot to California, a lot to Seattle.”

Amid the chaos of what has now become a mass sewing operation, Anderson has enlisted the help of her two teenagers and her husband, making this time even more memorable than it already is.

“I taught my husband how to cut the fabric and how to surge. Now he has carpal tunnel syndrome from all the ironing,” Anderson joked.

Mask by mask, she’s determined to get her family through the pandemic.

She added, “The masks definitely have been a blessing and they have kept us from having to go into our savings and kept us afloat without having to worry.”

Anderson will be selling her masks at the Clark Fork Market on May 23. You can find her booth at the entrance to the market on Pattee Street.