(WIVB) – For the 14th year, fans of country music star Keith Urban are helping to make kids in children’s hospitals across the country and the world smile.
The “14th Annual Keith Urban Fans Valentine’s Day Stuffed Monkey Drive” is underway.
Donations of new, tag-on stuffed monkeys are being collected for distribution at children’s hospitals and organizations in 38 states and four countries.
Locally, Tonawanda resident Zina Grant is using her home as a collection spot for the cuddly toys. She will drop them off to young patients at Oishei Children’s Hospital on Feb. 12.
This is her fourth year collecting for the drive and bringing them to Buffalo’s children’s hospital.
“I go in with six huge bags- we put them on gurneys- we go floor to floor, each room,” she said. “When they see the monkey, it just gives them that smile- we call them monkey hugs.”
Last year, Grant collected just under 200 stuffed monkeys. The entire drive collected about 4,100.
Connecticut resident Eileen Henri started the drive 14 years ago.
“I was a new member of Keith’s fan club, which was at that time called “Monkeyville”,” Henri said. “Keith had a campaign that urged fans to volunteer and get involved in their community.”
Henri picked up on a local garage that was collecting donations of stuffed monkey for kids at a safe house. She posted about it in the fan page, and collected about 53 toys for the drive through the page.
Though the garage is now closed, the fans have continued the drive.
“We just keep going!” Henri laughed. “It’s something we just can’t stop- it’s for the kids.”
If you’re interested in donating a stuffed monkey to the drive, email email@example.com for a mailing address. Donations must be at least 8″ tall, new with tags on, and from a pet-free and smoke-free home. You can skip the post office by ordering online and shipping directly to the drive address.
The deadline to donate is Feb. 8.
You can visit the Facebook event page for more information.