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'It's such a blessing to have her still here': Valley family gathering toys to donate to the hospital that treated daughter years ago

A year after Amber Gonzales' daughter stayed for weeks at Banner Children's after a daycare injury, her family started giving back to the hospital.

PHOENIX — Inside the garage at Amber Gonzales' home are bags and boxes grouped together filled with toys.

"We've got Barbie dolls, stuff for the little toddler kids," Gonzales says as she sifts through just one of several bags. 

Having toys in one's garage during the holiday season isn't exactly unique this time of year, but the reason Gonzales' garage is filled, is. 

While Gonzales' little boy goes through the bags, pulling out brand new cars and tractors, the toys, aren't for him or her other two kids. 

But they are in honor of one of them: Six-year-old Abigail.

Credit: 12News
Amber Gonzales (left) holds her six-year-old daughter, Abby, on the couch of their home Thursday.

Back in 2016, Gonzales recalls picking Abby up from daycare one day in September. 

"They told me she was sleeping but she was unconscious. I put her in her car seat. She didn't cry. She always cries. So I got that mom feeling that something wasn't right," Gonzales said. 

Gonzales said she called 911, and they took Abby to Banner Children's. Abby was 5 months old at the time. 

"They told me that she had a skull fracture and shaken baby. There's too many hemorrhages in her eyes to even count, that's how bad she was shaken. I just remember the first thing I said, 'Is my daughter gonna die?' And they said, 'We're going to do everything in our power to, you know, make sure she's okay.'," Gonzales said.

Abby spent nearly 4 weeks in the pediatric ICU and on five of those days, Gonzales said, Abby was in a coma. 

"It's very hard," Gonzales said. 

But what Gonzales said made the time a bit easier was what the staff gave to Abby during her stay. 

"They would bring toys in for her and stuffed animals and just made it the best situation that they could for her on her stay," Gonzales said. 

So in 2017, the family started giving back. The family gathered and donated toys for the kids that come through Banner Children's doors. 

"The first year we gave 32 toys as just our little family," Gonzales said. "And every year it kind of spread like wildfire through our church and family and friends. And so this year, we're hoping to get 1,000 toys." 

Credit: Amber Gonzales
The Gonzales family donates toys at Banner Children's in 2017.

So far, the family has collected about 885 toys and is hoping to finish collecting them this Sunday to donate on December 10. 

The toys get passed out to kids at the hospital, not only through the Christmas season but, Gonzales said, for months following. 

"They took such great care of her. And we understand what it's like to have to be in the hospital, especially around the holidays we couldn't imagine," Gonzales said. 

While Abby lived, she does have epilepsy, and can't walk.

"She's just a joy. She babbles, she can't talk, but she makes us smile," Gonzales said. 

They're giving gifts after the hospital helped give them to Abby. 

"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. But it's such a blessing to have her still here with us today," Gonzales said. 

If you'd like to donate a toy, you can contact Gonzales at (760) 927-5122, donate money to purchase more toys on Zelle to the same number, or Venmo: @Amber-Gonzales-2.

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