2 Berkeley businesses pair up to provide hospital gowns where they’re needed

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital wants the gowns it uses normally to go to hospitals that need them. A garage and a sewing studio stepped in with a smart idea.

Jason Simms, left, owner of Argonaut Garage and his wife, Jesse Simms, who used to work at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Photo: Tiana Hunter

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Argonaut Garage and Hello Stitch Studio, both Berkeley businesses, are partnering to help support UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland in its efforts to help control the spread of the coronavirus.

In order to help other medical facilities in the area that are working directly with COVID-19 cases, Children’s has made the decision to begin using washable, reusable cotton gowns for their patients so that the disposable gowns they normally use can be donated to other hospitals with an immediate need for those supplies.

These cotton gowns can be simply made by the dedicated group of pattern makers and sewers at Hello Stitch Studio from twin-sized bed sheets. The staff at Argonaut Garage is helping by donating 10 sets of twin bed sheets for Hello Stitch to convert to gowns. It wants to do more, which is where the rest of us come in: Starting today, it is accepting donations of twin-sized cotton bed sheets at its shop at 1485 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. These sheets should be new and unopened. If you would prefer to not leave your house, it is accepting online donations and will shop on your behalf. Simply fill out this form to make a donation. (To ask about helping sew gowns, fill out this form.)


It is one of multiple local grassroots initiatives that have sprung up during the coronavirus pandemic to help out both at-risk members of the community and those on the health care frontlines.

Argonaut’s owner, Jason Simms, tells us he and his wife, Jesse Simms have a history of helping out Children’s. Jesse used to work there and the pair have done Hot Wheels toy drives for the hospital in the past two years, collecting nearly 400 Hot Wheels to donate to them.

Jason says they have friends who are crafters. When he found out about the need for gowns, he reached out to Hello Stitch to see what they were doing and they set up the project together.

“They are working very hard to get this done. So it was an easy way to use our reach to try and help,” he told us.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside. Email: tracey@citysidejournalism.org.