Over the last few weeks, Bank Independent team members have sewn and distributed more than 1,000 masks to hospitals across North Alabama to augment supplies during the Covid-19 crisis.
Leadership at the bank realized in early March that social distancing would need to be factored in to their response plan, with some employees needing to work from home.
“Day to day work life changed pretty dramatically, especially for my team,” says Community Engagement Officer Nikki Randolph. “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 was inspired by hundreds of other grassroots efforts around the country to help those on the front line of the pandemic stay safe. A booming handmade production line was created to fill a growing need for masks.
Local hospitals began welcoming mask donations to support healthcare staff. Randolph and her team immediately started researching patterns of hospital approved masks and the availability of materials both locally and online. Randolph’s 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, Penny Camp.
“We sent a request for volunteers and our team members answered,” said Camp. “Some of our team members already had a talent for sewing; others were just passionate about making a positive difference and a willingness to learn. We had some team members who were still doing their regular job and sewing masks in their spare time, and then we had some team members who were working remotely, unable to do their everyday job, but contributing to our community efforts by creating masks. With all the extra help, we realized we could have a much larger impact than originally thought.”
Protocols were put in place for the production of the masks, including hands, work areas and supplies all being sanitized prior to mask construction. Only materials and patterns approved for use in medical facilities were used and each finished mask was individually packaged to minimize cross contamination before and after distribution.
“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 and our commitment to our mission of making a positive difference in people’s lives here at the bank and across the communities we serve.”
Getting its start as the Bank of Leighton in 1947 in Colbert County, Bank Independent has grown to 28 traditional sales offices across North Alabama and one digital sales office. It is the sixth largest bank in Alabama ranked by total assets in 2019.