Art & Design Department Chair and Director of The Center for the Arts & Design Claudia Wilburn presents Gainesville Police Department Officer Maricela Del Rio with sock monkeys made made by Brenau students faculty and staff. The Gainesville Police Department keeps stuffed animals and other toys to help children in upsetting situations. 9AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

A Note from the Director: Sock Monkeys

Jun 13, 2019
Claudia Wilburn

Written by Claudia Wilburn

In our ongoing effort to reach out beyond campus, the Center for Arts & Design (CAD) is holding events that are open to not only the students, faculty and staff of Brenau University, but also to all of the surrounding community. Our current focus on this goal involves holding more workshops on campus that are open to the general public. In January, CAD and Brenau’s chapter of Kappa Pi (an international honors arts fraternity composed of design, fashion and arts students) hosted an event demonstrating how to make the iconic sock monkey. The large crowd of participants was then encouraged to create two monkeys: one for themselves to keep and one to donate.

A few years ago, I learned that many police departments, as well as fire and rescue squads, have a policy of keeping stuffed animals in their cars and at the stations for children who are in crisis situations. The concept is that the officer or first responder can give a toy, particularly a stuffed animal, to a child in a highly emotional situation to comfort the child and provide him/her with something to focus on. In a recent conversation with Officer Del Ray from the Gainesville Police Department, she mentioned that some officers will bring toys their own children have outgrown for this purpose. She had a teddy bear riding in the cab of her police vehicle, which stood as a welcome contrast to the otherwise intimidating interior of her cruiser.

In an effort to strengthen the ties between our campus and our local government, I used this workshop to make students and the greater community aware of this program and donated their handmade sock monkeys to the Gainesville Police Department. We had such a great turnout and enthusiastic support for this workshop that we plan to hold a service-centered workshop at least once a year going into the future.


To learn even more about this initiative, please see the article in the Gainesville Times.