10th annual Robles family toy drive underway in Douglas

Rachel and Rene Robles show off some of the toys they collected during last year's toy drive.

DOUGLAS — The Hector Robles family of Douglas has once again begun collecting new, unwrapped toys as well as cash donations, which will be used to purchase toys for children at Tucson Medical Center as part of their “Christmas in July” toy drive.

The toy drive is in its 10th year. More than 4,000 toys have been collected and turned in to the staff at TMC as part of the Child Life Organization, which then distributes them to patients who may need some cheering up. The goal for the Robles family this year is to drop off more than 500 toys, which would be the most donated.

On July 31, 2011, while celebrating his fifth birthday, Hector and Lupita Robles’ son, Rene, known as “Chapo” to his family and friends, suffered a 90-minute seizure during his birthday party in Douglas. He was taken to TMC where doctors determined he had suffered a “tonic-clonic seizure” due to an abnormal blood vessel on the right side of his brain.

By the third day of what would be a seven-day stay in the hospital, Rene wanted to resume his birthday celebration. Knowing he was depressed because his birthday party was cut short due to the seizure, the nurses at TMC got together and bought him and his cousin, Debanny, who was celebrating her birthday at the same time, presents and sang “Happy Birthday” to them.

That kind gesture has never been forgotten by the Robles family who, with the help of Rene and his sister Rachel, for the past nine years now spend the month prior to Rene’s birthday collecting toys which are dropped off at TMC every July 31.

Lupita proudly boasts that her son has been “seizure free” for the past 10 years and this year was given the OK by his doctors to begin playing sports at DHS. He competed in football, wrestled and threw the shot put and discus.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long,” Rene said. “I didn’t realize it had been 10 years until mom told me.”

Lupita said she remembers that day like it was yesterday.

“It’s a day I don’t think any of us will ever forget,” she said. “It was scary not knowing what was going on with Chapo. I’m still worried even now that he’s been given the green light to play sports. I don’t ever want to go back to that day.”

Donations are being accepted through July 28. They can be delivered to the Robles residence at 1521 San Antonio Drive in Douglas, or call 520-456-4819 or 520-234-1660. To donate financially, an account has been set up at Southeastern Arizona Federal Credit Union under the name “TMC Robles Toydrive.” Rachel, who now lives in Gilbert, does her part by collecting toys there.

“Due to guidelines at TMC we cannot take any stuffed toys,” Lupita said. “We cannot thank you enough for helping our kids accomplish their goals in the past.”