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Nikki Randolph cutting mask patterns. Photo by Trent Randolph

Bank Independent sews and delivers over 1000 masks to local hospitals

MADISON – Over the last few weeks, Bank Independent team members have sewn and distributed over 1,000 protective masks to hospitals across North Alabama to augment supplies during the COVIC-19 crisis.

Bank Independent officials said they began implementing their pandemic plan during the early days of March in preparation for the unknown.  They knew that social distancing would need to be factored in for most staff, and for some with underlying health issues, the safest distance would be working from home.  The bank was determined to prioritize the health and safety of the team while ensuring everyone felt secure in their job position.

“Day to day work life changed pretty dramatically, especially for my team,” says Community Engagement Officer Nikki Randolph.  “Bank Independent team members are personally involved in giving back to the community.  In the span of just a few-days-time, we went from having a scheduled community event almost every day to trying to figure out how to continue to volunteer in this new, quarantined environment.”

The idea of sewing masks wasn’t original to the bank, but rather inspired by hundreds of other grassroots efforts around the country.  Healthcare providers nationwide were facing an alarming shortage of personal protective equipment.  Many people now found themselves on stay-at-home orders with time on their hands and a desire to help.  A booming handmade production line was created to fill a growing need for masks.

Local hospitals began welcoming mask donations to support healthcare staff.  Nikki immediately started researching patterns of hospital approved masks and the availability of materials both locally and online.  Her first estimate of how many masks could be completed and distributed by her team were relatively modest when she submitted the idea to the bank’s Chief People Officer (CPO) Penny Camp.

“That’s when the idea became bigger than the community engagement team,” explains Camp.  “We sent the call for volunteers and they answered.  Some people had a talent for sewing, others a simple passion to help and a willingness to learn.  We had frontline workers sewing between transactions and office support cutting patterns between spreadsheets.  And then we had some team members who had been sent home early on for health reasons suddenly find their purpose outside of their typical role, creating masks.  With all the extra hands, we realized we could make a bigger impact than our early estimates.”

The team of volunteers followed very specific protocols in the production of masks.  Hands, work areas and supplies were sanitized prior to construction.  Only materials and patterns approved for use in medical facilities were used.  And each finished mask was carefully individually packaged to minimize cross contamination before and after distribution.

“Our team of volunteers has been able to provide masks to hospitals across our business footprint,” says Randolph.  “We’ve relied on our team members to reach out to friends and family working in the healthcare profession to discover where the need is greatest.  Those contacts have been an invaluable resource accepting and distributing the masks within the hospitals.  Their help has allowed us keep our social distance and our presence from being a disruption to the hospitals we support.”

The more than 1,000 masks have been distributed to local hospitals.

“I’m very proud to see how this project has come together over the last few weeks,” says Camp.  “I think it is a testament to the spirit of volunteerism here at the bank and across the communities we serve.  The common thread is our shared gratitude for what we’ve been given and our commitment to pay it forward.”

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