By the middle of March, Morgan Kern, a member of the Spain Park High School Class of 2020 in Hoover, Alabama, began striking through remaining milestones on her senior year calendar of events.
Thanks to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, there would be no Spring Break trip, no senior prom, no last lunch with friends in the cafeteria, and since her consistently good grades made it clear she was well on her way to graduating – no more classwork.
So Kern brainstormed with her mom, Regions Bank Cash Operations Manager Stephanie Kern, for a way to spend the nearly two unexpected months of free time she had on her hands.
“When the quarantine first started, I quickly became bored doing puzzles and watching movies, and I started reading about people needing masks because of the coronavirus,” Morgan Kern said. “Then I remembered I had my grandma’s old sewing machine, and she had taught me the basics of sewing, so I wanted to help.”
“I found the Birmingham Face Mask Group on Facebook, and Morgan wanted to join,” Stephanie Kern added. “We put out a message asking for fabric donations, and we quickly got enough to fill three washing machine loads to start.”
Within that first week, Morgan sewed 200 masks.
Morgan has always had a servant’s heart.
Stephanie Kern, Morgan’s mother
“She wanted to do this for people she knew needed them, so she would have a connection,” Stephanie said. “She made them for friends who are nurses and doctors. We also sent them to a pediatric surgeon in Michigan, labor and delivery nurses at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and the infusion clinic at Children’s of Alabama.”
Word continued to spread about Morgan’s masks, and she continued to receive fabric donations and sew more of them. For elderly neighbors and children who live nearby. For her mail carrier. For nursing home and hospice workers.
There was also an opportunity to help some of her mom’s colleagues.
“At the time, Cash Operations was working to secure masks for Vault associates across the footprint. So, I mentioned Morgan’s mission,” Stephanie said. “She sewed 75 masks, which were sent to our six vault locations – Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Birmingham and Mobile in Alabama.”
Regions Vault associates sent Morgan thank you notes and pictures of them donning the masks she made. She received similar “thank you” pictures from healthcare workers, all wearing her masks.
“To see the pictures of people who we don’t know wearing her masks, I get tearful. For us to give them a layer of protection makes me feel good about what my daughter is doing,” Stephanie said. “Morgan has always had a servant’s heart. She sees a need and instantly jumps in and addresses it. My husband and I are very proud.”
To date, Morgan has sewn 700 masks. She opted to graduate via a virtual ceremony as a safe alternative to a crowded traditional ceremony. Instead of a stage, Morgan walked across her living room floor when her name was called.
She reflected on how the pandemic took away some senior memories and gave her a richer way to cap off her high school career.
“I think I’ve ended it in a very good way. Even though I haven’t been able to see or talk to my friends, I’ve made a difference in peoples’ lives.” Morgan said. “I feel like I have matured a lot. I’ve been able to communicate with people I would not have met. Knowing that people all over the world are experiencing this and I’m able to stay here in my house and share what I know how to do with other people, it makes a difference in my life.”