John R. Hummel Elementary students Nick Ruggiero and Andre Garcia of Las Vegas, Nevada, had a brilliant idea at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, and it included hundreds of sock monkeys.
With art teacher Emily Morse and fellow instructor Debbie Rodick helping them lead the charge, Nick and Andre were able to convince their classmates to assist them in putting together sock monkey gifts and “get-well” letters for the children of Safe Nest, a shelter for survivors of domestic violence, and the pediatric wing of St. Rose Hospital.
So why monkeys?
“When my students earn a certain number of points we have a game day,” explained teacher Emily in her Class Act submission this past February. “One of the most popular games in my room is Barrel of Monkeys. We talked about how if the monkeys were real they’d have to have to have team work and cooperation to help each other out of the barrel. That’s like us. We need to help each other out of our own ‘barrels.'”
According to the teachers, it took the school some time to assemble the felt to create the monkeys themselves, but with each grade level pitching in in whatever ways they could, the task became a little bit easier.
“The third through fifth grade students helped cut out monkey shapes for the K-2nd grade students,” said Emily. “Once we had enough monkeys, we began decorating. During that time I got a request from my contact at the hospital for birthday posters she could keep in her desk and use to decorate a patient’s room when needed, so we made some posters that were reusable (laminated) and others that could be given to patients.”
Going the extra mile, the school put together get-well cards for the young patients as well, handing them out with the sock monkeys after first disinfecting them. Among those gifted with cards and a monkey was one of Emily’s former students.
“That student was at St. Rose Hospital,” said Emily. “I was told that our cards plastered his room right before he fell asleep, and that it had made him happy to see them.”
Already, students at John R. Hummel Elementary who were inspired by this year’s submission have begun planning projects for the next school year.
“The students at Hummel have already been thinking about next year’s Class Act, and a 4th grader has come up with our plan,” Emily wrote.
For the students and teachers at Hummel Elementary who worked so hard to put smiles on the faces of hundreds of children, a warm fuzzy feeling might have been enough of a reward for their kind deed, but thanks to their caring example, Random Acts noticed. Congratulations to Hummel Elementary and teachers Emily and Debbie — you’re officially one of our 2015 Class Act runners-up!