GREAT FALLS — A beloved hobby turned into a way to give back to the community. Juanita Cole Crasco has been sewing since she was eight years old and has owned her business called Juanita Stars since 1987. Her passion for sewing and even teaching has been a part of her life for quite some time.
"I like to work with youth, I am retired after working for 40 years. I am a retired principal, teacher, grant writer, program director, you name it. I retired a few years ago due to my health, I have diabetes, and I have fibromyalgia, which has been hard on me." Says Crasco
Juanita decided she wanted to help others. "I just decided to stay home, and I have lots of young ladies, not all young, but I have four young ladies. One was in high school at the time when she started with me, needed something to do and to keep them out of trouble. One needed some money. She's not enrolled here and had a tough time finding a job. So I put these girls to work, and I loved being busy."
But then one day she received a call. "I got a message from Bonnie Sawyer, she's the director of Hopa Mountain in Bozeman. She contacted me and said, 'Juanita, would you be interested in making masks?' and I said sure. We're thinking about making them for our family. She said I would provide you with some fabric if you sew, and I said yes, I got excited".
She has been ready for this for a while now. "Over the years, I have been buying lots of fabric, and we have made, I don't even know, I haven't counted, but I'm going to say close to 1,500 star quilts."
Juanita also made more than 650 masks just last week and wants the girls to learn a new skill.
"I have been working with these girls, they are doing awesome. I piecemeal with my star quilts, I have also been piecemealing with these masks. Some people are good at sewing, some people don't know how to sew, and they are scared to sew, so I say, grab some scissors, cut some threads on these masks. Start counting on these rubber bands, start cutting elastic, there are all kinds of things."
She has even put together do it yourself kits. "We put together these kits of the precut fabric, so they don't have to do the cutting. We will either put elastic or rubber bands whatever we have at the time."
Any donations of fabric or cash will be used for gas and paying the ladies that work for her. You can message her on Facebook or email her at Jcole_59524@yahoo.com
They will also be selling them for $10 a mask.