Business Owner Partners with Amish to Sew Masks and Gowns for Hospitals

A volunteer woman wearing a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of the new coronavirus sews face masks, in a mosque in southern Tehran, Iran, Sunday, April 5, 2020. Iran is battling the worst new coronavirus outbreak in the Mideast. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

An Ohio business owner saw that hospitals are struggling to keep up with the demand for personal protective equipment and came up with the solution of partnering with the local Amish community.

“Within 20 miles of here, we have 5,400 Amish households. That translates into over 10,000 seamstresses. The question now is, how many of those could we organize to put behind this effort,” John Miller told WJW.

Miller worked with Amish community leaders to put together a series of “frolics,” an Amish term for bringing large groups of people together. In this case, they would be coming together to sew masks and other personal protective equipment.

Each Amish sewing team has a team leader and ten seamstresses who report to that leader.

“In the space of 48 hours, they sewed 12,000 masks for the Cleveland Clinic, which we then delivered,” said Miller.

Now that the team completed the initial order from the Cleveland Clinic, the seamstresses are working on an additional 140,000 face covers.

The Amish have not been immune from both the physical and financial toll of the coronavirus. Holmes County, the nation’s largest Amish community, had three confirmed coronavirus cases, and the pandemic has put hundreds of Amish seamstresses, craftsmen, and artisans out of work, the New York Times reported.

The Amish also do not apply for federal unemployment benefits, so the impact of the coronavirus affects them more than the average U.S. citizen.

“It conflicts with our faith and our commitment to the government,” Atlee Raber, the founder of Berlin Gardens, an area garden furniture maker that now makes protective face shields, told the Times about applying for government help.


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