In the December 19 2008 Edition of the Grove Sun Daily, it was reported that an anonymous person in a “dog suit” had given an area child a bicycle during the Grove Chamber’s annual Christmas Parade on December 13.

Upon initial investigation, no one was able to say who the person in the “dog suit” was, or which float he or she had come from.

However, an email from Joanie Higgins cleared the matter up.

“The ‘dog suit’ was actually a Monkey Costume,” Higgins explained.  “It was on a float from Monkey Island.  The float is sponsored by the Monkey Island Toy fund.”

  Higgins said a group of individuals and businesses on Monkey Island work all year to raise money for the Christmas Toy and Clothing Fund. 

“We get names of families through the Delaware County DHS office and see that they get Christmas Presents.  This year we shopped for 200 children.  Everything from bikes to clothes.  Each child receives a new outfit and 3 - 4 toys depending on age and cost of items. In addition we gave away 8 bikes during the Grove Christmas Parade,” she added. 

Higgins said the group also spent one Sunday baking cookies, which they, and the “monkey” delivered to five nursing homes in Grove and one in Jay.

A young girl from Gravette, Arkansas who was attending the parade with her family met Santa in disguise – he was wearing a dog suit.

Kearstin Holland of Gravette, Arkansas, was one of the children who received a bicycle from the Monkey Island group..

Kearstin’s mother, Cindy Holland said, “I had walked back to my car to get my youngest daughter’s gloves out, and my husband was pretty much in shock, so he did not even see which float it came off of.”

Kearstin’s father, Tony Mains, told witnesses he was so happy that she had asked for a bike for Christmas and that the family could not afford to give her one.

Cindy Holland said she wanted to express her sincere appreciation to whomever gave her daughter the bike.

“I know that with the economy the way it has been everyone is having a hard time with finances.  I think that it is great when people and businesses who are more for fortunate than others are able to show their support and generosity when the holidays come around.  We do not have much to offer others except for our services.  My husband is an auto and tractor mechanic and I help out at our kid's elementary school in Gravette.  Please send out a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she said.

One thing is certain, whether their mascot is a dog or a monkey, the Monkey Island Toy Fund expresses the true spirit of Christmas with their generous gifts.