Austin girl starts toy drive in honor of officer's son who passed away

Natalie Smith is collecting toys in honor of an Austin Police officer's son who passed away last month. (CBS Austin)

Natalie Smith is collecting toys in honor of an Austin Police officer's son, Hunter Henderson, who passed away last month.

The day after Christmas, Hunter had an accident playing with gym equipment at home. He spent two days at Dell Children's Medical Center, and passed away December 28 at four years old.

Natalie and Hunter were neighbors and family friends. She says she spent many days playing with Hunter and his sister.

When he passed away, she was devastated. "At first it was hard I was crying a lot but after that I had to accept it and deal with it and I'm trying to make the best of the situation," says Natalie.

After speaking with a school counselor, Natalie decided to turn her grief into something good. She started "Hunter's Heroes," a superhero themed toy drive for children at Dell Children's Medical Center. "I have been thinking that he would've loved this idea and to have received one of these toys while he was at the hospital," says Natalie.

Natalie's parents say they're proud of their daughter, and continue to support Hunter's parents after the tragedy. "We're proud of Natalie but most importantly we're grieving for our friends who have lost their child," says Katy Smith.

Hunter's parents are also proud of the work Natalie is doing to honor their son.

They provided this statement:

The Henderson family is touched and honored that Natalie wanted to do this in Hunter's name.
Though our story does not have a happy ending, we are hoping this can bring joy to others in his name.
He was a boy full of life and would want others to experience happiness and joy.

If you would like to donate to Hunter's Heroes, superhero themed toys can be dropped off at the Circle C Community Center 9 - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.

Natalie is collecting toys through January 31st.

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