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Each Monday, the Monkey Toy Ladies come together to share stories, laughs, and the duties and joys of making sock monkeys. The monkeys we make (made mainly out of unwanted nylon stockings and thread) are donated to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and given to sick children in an effort to put smiles on their faces. Over the years, we have made thousands of monkeys and brightened the days of just as many kids.
Since inception in 1978, our organization’s sole purpose has been to make Sock Monkeys for the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. Functioning under the auspices of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Northern Santa Clara County, we gather weekly at the Los Altos Senior Center for a work session. More volunteer hours are donated as many members continue working on the monkeys throughout the week in their individual homes.
The opportunity to provide a bit of cheer to hospitalized boys and girls attracts many seeking a similarly rewarding volunteer experience, and the majority of our members are senior women, - grandmothers and great-grandmothers.
As we transform the red-heeled work socks into the ever-popular sock monkeys, we often wonder about the child who will receive our toy; and we earnestly hope it will provide comfort and a little joy during and beyond his/her hospital stay. Each monkey takes on its own character as our volunteers apply the finishing touches; and whether our member is cutting, sewing, stuffing, or putting on pompoms, much love goes into each step and stitch along the way.
The fellowship we enjoy during the process is an added benefit. Having found a way to make a meaningful contribution, volunteers discover an immense personal reward, - the special camaraderie within a group of like-minded women.
Though occasionally over the years a few men have participated in our endeavor, our Monday morning volunteer group currently consists of approximately 27 women.
Two of our number have been Sock Monkey Volunteers for twenty years; and an estimate of the average age of the many seniors in our group is 83 years.
Though not in the majority, our membership does include younger women, with RSVP membership being afforded those 55 years or older. However, we were delighted when an even younger volunteer presented herself recently. One of her two children, now seven-and-nine-years-old, had received a Sock Monkey when hospitalized as an infant. Moved by the experience, Debbie vowed to join the group some day. We didn’t turn her away! A visit from the son and his 9-year-old sock monkey revealed both very healthy looking, and Debbie continues with our group today.
- Marge Filson
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