April Saffel had collected dolls since she was little.
Even at 33, she didn't think she was too old to be collecting them, recalled her mother, Cathy Saffel Crossen.
Her daughter kept most of the dolls in their boxes so they wouldn't lose their value, Crossen said, and she loved to go to flea markets and hunt for items such as old Barbies.
In fact, Crossen said, on the day Saffel died, "she was raring to go to the flea market the next day."
Saffel died Feb. 11 after she overdosed on her prescription pain medication. Previously, one of her legs had been amputated because of an infection, and she had lost the use of the other.
To pay tribute to her daughter, Crossen donated 280 of the dolls in Saffel's collection to the Forgotten Child Fund, which provides Christmas gifts to needy children.
Volunteers from the nonprofit agency collected the dolls Wednesday morning from Crossen's house in Chattanooga.
"I think this is what she would want," Crossen said. "Some use will come out of these toys."
Among the ones donated were Barbie, Bratz, MyScene, Hannah Montana, Camp Rock and High School Musical dolls, Crossen said. She estimated the collection was worth $3,000 to $4,000.
Clay Ingle, spokesman for the Forgotten Child Fund, said he was touched by Crossen's donations.
"When I heard this story, it was heartwarming," he said. "I couldn't think of a nicer thing to do to pay homage to your daughter's life."
The fund probably will get toys for 7,000 children this year -- the highest number of children it has served in one Christmas since it started in 1965, Ingle said. Volunteers with the fund -- the majority of whom are firefighters, police officers and other emergency service personnel and their relatives -- buy many of the toys, but the fund also relies on donations of new or good-as-new products.
"We don't want any child forgotten Christmas morning," he said.
Crossen said the collection went well and she has no regrets about donating the dolls to the fund. In fact, she and her husband plan to spend Christmas Eve on the Santa Train -- when a parade with emergency vehicles, CARTA buses and a limo containing Santa Claus and a head elf goes to the homes of 10 needy families and delivers toys.
"I wish we could do more," she said.
HOW TO HELP
New or good-as-new toys can be donated to the Forgotten Child Fund at any Hamilton County EMS station or Chattanooga fire station. Additionally, they can be taken to the fund's toy store at 1715 E. Main St. in Chattanooga.