EUREKA - This year people across the country have picked up hobbies or projects to help cope with the pandemic and Montana is no exception.

What started as one woman's creative outlet during the pandemic has turned into a community project. Rita Collins got the idea back in June when she decided to take a course about pandemic projects from Tulane University and soon it became a community project with about 20 women involved. 

Right now the women are working on a handmade quilt that features people they knew and loved ones who passed away due to COVID-19, and they say this is their way of remembering and healing.

"It was a creative way to accept what's going. I mean we can distance, we can wear masks, but what else can we do on a larger scale to address this," said Collins. "This was something that felt positive."

Stitch by stitch, three to four ladies work on this quilt at a time and each one of the faces was created by a wood block style of art. Each person depicted also has a biography detailing their life.

"You know so many people have died from COVID and they become numbers. How can we possibly think of them individually when there's thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands even so this just seemed a way for us to look at 20 and say we know who these people are, and we're honoring them, and maybe it helps us remember the other ones," said Collins.

Right now the quilt is being quilted by the group of women who meet every Friday. They hand quilt to raise money for the local museum in Eureka and said  this is an unusual quilt for them to work on and required lots of discussion as to how to quilt it. They decided it was best to do it by hand but some of the fabrics would make that difficult so they are using multiple techniques to piece the quilt together. 

Some people have suggested the quilt should go to the Smithsonian which Collins is considering but for now they say the goal is to finish a project that means so much for the community.

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