A half-dozen of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Beehive Clothing facilities in five different countries are being used to produce surgical gowns and masks for health care workers.
About 1,000 employees at the six Church-owned facilities in Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico, the Philippines and the United States began sewing the medical equipment in mid-April.
“We are donating our time, our labor and our sewing capacity for several months, diverting it from sewing sacred garments to sewing surgical gowns and reusable cloth [face] masks for the community,” said Peggy Cowherd, managing director of the Church’s Materials Management Department.
Beehive Clothing’s two U.S. locations — in American Fork and Salt Lake City, Utah — are producing the medical-grade gowns, while workers at the international locations are sewing masks.
The Utah employees are working in three shifts to enable social distancing, according to the report.
Each gown takes less than three minutes to sew. Cowherd told Newsroom that the Utah facilities have produced about 50,000 gowns and the other locations have turned out about 585,000 masks as of Monday, May 18. Beehive Clothing plans to complete 200,000 gowns by the end of June.
The project will provide 1.5 million reusable cloth masks to health care workers worldwide.
Material for the gowns was donated by Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health and Latter-day Saint Charities. Beehive Clothing is donating the labor required to complete the project.
At the international facilities, workers are sewing washable masks with cotton fabric already on hand for the production of sacred clothing.
Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé and his second counselor, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, toured the Salt Lake City facility on Friday, May 15, and thanked employees for their labor during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Church’s Presiding Bishopric oversees the project.
Juan Carlos Caballero, a Beehive Clothing employee in Paraguay, told Newsroom, “When I think of Christ and true Christianity, which is serving others, this is a wonderful opportunity to show love for our fellow men and to bless their lives by protecting them through this gift.”
“It was a little bit of [an] adjustment for us, sewing a woven fabric that’s not stretchy. I just really, really love it here no matter what I’m sewing,” said Charlene Johnson, a Beehive Clothing employee in Salt Lake City.
If local government regulations allow it, the facilities’ regular production of sacred clothing for Latter-day Saints is expected to resume in July.