Woman starts mask-making business to keep family afloat during pandemic

MISSOULA, Mont. (KPAX/CNN) – Many people have had to find new ways to make money during the coronavirus pandemic.

One woman in Montana used her sewing knowledge to create masks, which she’s now sending all over the country.

Normally, Vida Anderson runs a daycare out of her home in east Missoula. But is anything really normal nowadays?

When Montana Gov. Steve Bullock shut down 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.

"We closed our daycare and kept our fingers crossed that we would be able to stay afloat until we could reopen," Anderson said.

With years of sewing experience, and a demand across the country for protective masks, Anderson knew what she needed to do.

"Twenty days straight of sewing, 14 hours a day, no joke," she said.

At the start, Anderson was coordinating mask-making and donations for a Facebook group called “Crafters Against COVID-19.”

But once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended masks be worn by everyone in public, she started selling them through her online crafting shop.

"And then it just kind of took off,” she said. “We were so busy we couldn't sew fast enough."

Requests were soon coming in from all over the country.

"So, we've sent them a lot to New York, Brooklyn, the Bronx,” Anderson said. “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 for her than it already was.

"I taught my husband how to cut the fabric, get them all prepped that way,” she said. “I taught him how to surge, the first step, and then he has got carpal tunnel syndrome now from all the ironing."

Mask by mask, Anderson is determined to get her family through the pandemic.

"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,” she said. “We went from being super worried to being super busy, and no time to worry."

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