Murrieta woman makes sock monkeys for children who need comforting

There’s a lot of monkey business going on in the Murrieta home of Marcia Sattley, but don’t worry because it’s all good. In her spare time, the 63-year-old grandmother is busy making cute and colorful sock monkeys to give to children who need comforting. Over the past four years, she has made hundreds of monkeys and donated them to children’s hospitals and she recently began donating them to Riverside County’s children’s advocacy court.

“These children have been taken from their homes, and are in foster care. Many times they haven’t seen their parents since they were taken out of the homes…..until in court. It’s a very disturbing experience for them, as any of us can imagine,” Sattley said. “The lawyers have little stuffed animals for them to hold, and the monkeys have been something for the boys who aren’t as much into stuffed animals. Sadly, there are a tremendous number of cases that go through the court each week. Lots of monkeys are needed.”

She has a blog spot called Sock Monkeys 4 Kids and has documented her monkey making. There are also stories of how children have been comforted by the monkeys on the blogspot.

Founding of Sock Monkeys 4 Kids

“A couple of things piggybacked together which caused me to begin making monkeys in the first place,” Sattley said.

Six years ago, she was in treatment for cancer and spent most of her time at home. “During that year, I had a lot of time on my hands, and I wanted to do something useful. It’s easy to feel awful when you don’t have any purpose in life but being a cancer patient,” she said. “I made little chemo caps for the breast cancer clinic and for Michelle’s Place, and knitted mittens for humanitarian aid. But I hadn’t found a project that I really connected to until I watched ‘God Will Lift You Up’ on the LDS.org videos.”  

Sattley, a Mormon, was deeply touched by the video about Brittany, a teenage girl with a rare and chronic disease that affects every minute of her life. In spite of her own problems, the video shows the teen using her talents to lift the spirits of other chronically ill children.

“My own struggles fresh in my heart…. difficult days at the hospital, and disappointments in not being able to be involved in life…I connected to her story,” Sattley said. “Only I was recovering, and here she is…..a teenager, with a debilitating, painful, chronic illness that will never go away. Her life impressed me as a beautiful example of gratitude, faith and trust in God. She wasn’t wasting her time thinking of all that she didn’t have and couldn’t do, but she looked for ways she could be a blessing and benefit to others, and it was apparent that she was doing it with great love and compassion. I was very moved and inspired by her personally, and I was also creatively inspired by one of her projects, which was sock monkeys.

“I had only thought of sock monkeys as those old type, you know, the gray and red monkeys, not so exciting…..but Brittney’s were fun and cute and bright and cheerful,” Sattley said. “I loved them!” She immediately went online to learn how to make monkeys so she could donate them to children’s hospitals. 

Children’s reactions to monkeys

The first batch of about 30 monkeys that Sattley made went to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, where her 3-year-old grandson Ian was undergoing successful treatment for leukemia. He was diagnosed with his illness a year before Sattley developed cancer.

“He proudly carried two big bags of monkeys up the elevator and down the long halls at Children’s Mercy where he was getting his treatments,” Sattley said. “He was excited to give the monkeys to ‘his friends’, and those monkeys gave him a new focus as he received his treatment that day.

“The nurses made a big deal about the monkeys, which were distributed immediately. Very soon, one little boy came into Ian’s treatment room throwing his monkey up in the air and catching it, showing Ian that it could ‘fly,’” she said. “I received a thank you note from another mom with a picture of her little boy and his monkey. She said that he loved it, and it stayed with him through his treatments, and slept with him at night.”

Sattley said that there was a little girl at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego who didn’t have visitors and was lonely until she received a monkey. “The nurses took the basket of monkeys to her and watched as she picked up each one, looked it over, and finally selected her favorite. She hugged it to her and smiled, her first smile. (It was) monkey love,” she said.

Making monkeys

Making monkeys is fun and simple to do, according to Sattley, who has a tutorial on it on her blogspot. “A pair of socks, some stuffing, and a willing stitcher” are all that it takes to make one, she said. It takes an average person about two hours to make a monkey. She can make one in an hour.

“It is not difficult at all…. There is a bit of sewing on the machine to make the parts, and then you cut up the parts, body, arms ears, tail, mouth, stuff and hand sew them together,” Sattley explained. “I used to use buttons for eyes, but the children’s hospital prefers the teddy bear eyes that will not come off, so that is what I do now.”  

She usually gets socks from dollar stores and on sale at department stores. “I’m always on the lookout for a sale on bright and fun socks!” she said.

Monkey makers sought

Some local church groups have heard of Sattley’s monkey making through the grapevine and have come to her for instructions on what to do so they can get involved.

“I also have a small group of ladies who come to help when I have a monkey making afternoon at my house although anyone can make monkeys at anytime and anywhere,” she said. She added that family members, a neighbor and friends help her with monkey making, too.

“My ultimate dream goal for the monkeys would be to  have a dedicated, consistent group of monkey makers making monkeys so there doesn’t have to be such huge time lapses between monkey deliveries,” Sattley said. 

She used the LDS website JustServe.org last fall to find volunteers to help her make monkeys.

“I had not heard about JustServe,” Sattley said. “I have a friend who often helped me make monkeys and she suggested putting the project on JustServe as a way to get the project out there and maybe find some more monkey makers. I first checked it out in the middle of October, and I saw how many community projects were on there. I thought, ‘Wow!  This is a great site’ and I added the monkey project.”

In December, Sattley was contacted by two 13-year-old girls from Temecula who found her monkey project on JustServe and wanted to become monkey makers. They needed community service hours for school and like to sew.

“What a match!” Sattley said. “They came by, I showed them what to do, and the next day, their mom sent a picture of smiling girls, holding finished monkeys.”

For information on Sattley’s monkey making, or to become involved in it, email her at [email protected] or visit SockMonkeys4Kids.blogspot.com.

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