Teacher creates children's ministry despite illness
|Sock monkeys like this one from Christ United Methodist Church in Sugar Land, Texas, comfort children. |
Beth VanSickle of Christ United Methodist Church in Sugar Land, Texas, believes that nothing should get in the way of serving God. Despite having cancer, she started a ministry of making "sock monkeys" for thousands of children. VanSickle and hundreds of volunteers have made the stuffed animals and sent them to children in 16 states.
Many children who receive the sock monkeys come from homes where they were abused, said Ingred Lathrop, director of children's ministry at the church. The stuffed animals
"give them something to cling to and hold while adjusting to a new living situation."
The ministry began in January 2005 as a mission outreach project for first and second grade Sunday school students. VanSickle, a Sunday school teacher, wanted to continue serving God in spite of having breast cancer. She has been able to direct the ministry from home with help from her family and friends.
"The growth of the program has been explosive," said Lathrop. By the fall, it had expanded to include 36 adult church members, more than 500 students from a local elementary school, several college students and members of other churches. They made 1,200 sock monkeys and sent them to facilities for children, said Joan McGee, a leader of the ministry.
"People who might not be able to come to the church can do this at home," McGee said. Children who help make the monkeys are learning about serving others who are less fortunate.
Several other churches in Texas as well as organizations outside the state have contacted Christ Church about starting sock monkey ministries. Three more public schools are making plans to be involved.
For more information about the sock monkey ministry, call the church at (281) 980-6888 or go to www.sockmonkeyministry.com.