8-year-old fire survivor from Schenectady sparks global response

Safyre Terry likes to stop by a warehouse near her home every week, and open a present or two from her growing collection. She has a busy schedule to keep up with, between school and doctors appointments in Boston, M.A.. She’s still recovering from a fire in 2013 that killed her father and siblings, and left her severely burned. Now 8 years old, Safyre may not fully comprehend the impact she is having on people in her town, and all over the world, from a simple request for Christmas cards.

A Facebook post in early December helped spread the word that Safyre was looking for cards, and now she has more than 1.7 million pieces of mail, and counting.

“I don’t think any 8-year-old [could understand the scope of this]. She has no idea, and I’m hoping that one day, she will understand what she’s done. What they’ve done for her is incredible”, explained Liz Dolden, Safyre’s aunt who now has sole custody of her.

While opening two of her packages on a Wednesday morning, Safyre held up a stuffed bear and suggested they look for a “little boy or little girl who might need this” at the hospital. She was going to Boston that day for a procedure to remove stitches from around her face, something the doctors have to do periodically as she grows. Dolden says Safyre will continue to have many more operations until she’s done growing, but that doesn’t stop her. “We don’t want people to pity her, she’s encouraging, inspiring, loving, a go-getter, nothing brings her down”, said Dolden.

Toys for Tots is now running the volunteer-based effort to sort through the mountains of mail at the facility in Rotterdam, N.Y. They are spending 12 hours per day, 7 days-a-week, trying to make a dent in the collection, but more mail keeps coming in, to everyone’s amazement.

Liz Dolden was moved to tears talking about the impact the little girl who calls her mom has had on so many people. “To see the hope that she’s not only given me, but now the world, that’s just all we want is people to believe that no matter what, you can get through anything, that’s our whole motto”.

From China to Australia, people have found at least one thing in common; compassion for a girl in Schenectady, New York.


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