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Stanford University School of Medicine

Celebrating 40 years of “monkey business”

Since 1977, a group of volunteers gathers every Monday at the Los Altos Senior Center for some "monkey business." Armed with bits of yarn, ribbons and socks, the volunteers assemble what has become one of the most widely-recognized and beloved sources of comfort for patients at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford: sock monkeys.

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the sock monkey volunteer group — an effort that's created over 12,000 sock monkey toys and countless smiling kids.

"You see these kids receive monkeys, and they are so excited," said Marge Filson, a 95-year-old volunteer and self-proclaimed “monkey toy lady” in a recent Stanford Medicine news story." Anyone who has received a monkey has been very, very happy."

For the volunteers, the elated responses of the kids who receive the free toy monkeys is all the thanks they need. Filson learned just how important her contributions are in a chance encounter about 15 years ago. While purchasing red-heeled socks, Filson casually mentioned that she makes toy monkeys for patients at Packard Children's. To her surprise, the cashier was overjoyed at this news.

The cashier, "told me she had always wanted to talk to a monkey toy lady,” Filson said. “She had spent much of her childhood as a patient at Packard Children’s, where she received her own sock monkey toy, and she had always wanted to meet someone who made them to say thank you."

Maryellen Brady, the hospital’s director of volunteer services, is also grateful for the volunteers' efforts. "After four decades, the handmade sock monkeys continue to bring a sense of comfort to our patients as they go through a difficult time in their life," Brady said. "We are fortunate to have built a long-lasting relationship with the volunteers of the Los Altos Senior Center."

Previously: At 100, Stanford Health Care’s longest-serving volunteer is still going strongRandom Acts of Flowers delivers encouragement to Stanford Hospital patients and “Earth angel” brings smiles to sick kids in hospital
Photo by Katherine Emery

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