PTK pitches in on monkey movement for kids' comfort

Published 02.22.2024

Photos by Alexandra Butler, photographer/photo editor

Honor Societies
Nursing & Health Sciences
Clubs & Organizations
Community Involvement
A pile of monkeys, a pile of love

Students in Penn College’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter recently convened to prepare 144 plush monkey toys for children experiencing scary or difficult situations.

The monkeys are provided by Aly’s Monkey Movement, a local nonprofit started by the then 10-year-old daughter of nursing student Kristy L. Creasy, who introduced the project to PTK members and provided instruction.

Aly, now 14, had received a monkey stuffed animal from a family member when she was in the hospital. For her 10th birthday, she wanted to give back to the community, so she asked friends to forgo buying her presents and to instead give donations to purchase as many monkeys as she could to hand out to other children.

Today, Aly’s movement has distributed more than 8,500 monkeys worldwide. They are distributed to emergency rooms, fire departments, same-day surgery centers, and even veterinary offices.

“I know from my own experience what a difference it makes,” said Creasy, of Muncy, recalling how the monkey Aly received when she was in the emergency room made the job of the health care workers helping her daughter easier.

Kristy L. Creasy, a Penn College nursing student whose daughter created Aly’s Monkey Movement, tells fellow students about the local nonprofit organization.

On hand to help PTK members prepare monkeys for distribution (by choosing names and attaching nametags, then individually wrapping the toys), were Student Nurses’ Association members and paramedic students, who will have them on hand as they head to clinical experiences.

“It can be very challenging to give care to a child,” explained Brittany A. Breon, health care training specialist/clinical director in the college’s paramedic program. “It’s scary; they can’t sit with Mom and Dad. This is something they can hold onto.”

Myers T. Lorson, a noncredit paramedic student from South Williamsport, added that riding in the back of an ambulance is a foreign environment for a child. “When they have a stuffed animal, it helps comfort them quite a bit,” he said.

In addition to those to be distributed by paramedic and nursing students, some of the newly named and packaged monkeys headed to UPMC’s local same-day surgery center and emergency department, the radiology department at Evangelical Community Hospital, the Loyalsock Township Volunteer Fire Co., the Penn College Dental Hygiene Clinic, and the college’s Human Services & Restorative Justice program.

Delivering monkeys to the fire company was pre-nursing student and PTK member Jacob Schreckengast, a Loyalsock Township volunteer firefighter. “I know we have distributed them, and the medics like having them on the unit,” he said.

A heaping of helpers – hailing from Phi Theta Kappa, the Student Nurses’ Association and the paramedic program – gather following a productive packing party.

Creasy, also an emergency medical technician, is pursuing her second degree from Penn College. She completed a degree in occupational therapy assistant in 2006 and worked as a certified occupational therapist assistant for years before she decided to become an emergency medical technician for Susquehanna Regional Emergency Medical Services.

“I wanted to be a nurse when I was a kid, but I was nervous about it,” Creasy said. She enrolled in the college’s nursing program in Fall 2023.

“I am where I am supposed to be,” she said. “And I am thankful for the journey. I appreciate it differently than I would have 20 years ago.”

“I loved how this brought a lot of health care humans together,” she said of the packing party. “I’m so thankful to Phi Theta Kappa for thinking of us and organizing this. They organized it and made our job very easy.”

Phi Theta Kappa is an international honor society for students in two-year majors. Each semester, invitation to membership is extended by the Penn College chapter to students without advanced degrees who have completed at least 12 hours of coursework leading to an associate degree in which they have a GPA of 3.5.

Many hands make light work. In the front row, PTK members write monkeys’ names on tags. Behind them, students add those names to pouches and package monkeys inside, while paramedic students add the completed monkey packages to larger bags for distribution to health care agencies and other local destinations (including students’ own clinical education sites).
Students add nametags to the toys.
A monkey’s patch shows the love with which he was given, and a bag shows his new name: “Tamblin" (no doubt in honor of PTK co-adviser John F. Tamblin, assistant professor of chemistry).
Brittany A. Breon, health care training specialist/clinical director in the paramedic program, joyfully moves monkeys.
It appears this monkey is paying attention to Jadyn M. Horner, a dental hygiene student and the Phi Theta Kappa secretary.