8-year-old arson survivor gets her Christmas wish

By admin
18 December 2015

All she wanted for Christmas was enough holiday cards to fill her new “card tree”.

Now, 8-year-old Safyre Terry, who suffered disfiguring burns in an arson attack that killed her family, has received more than 195 000 letters and about 3000 packages from well-wishers around the world.

“’Wow’ is the general reaction in my family,” says Safyre’s aunt and guardian, Liz Dolder. “To hear a number is one thing, but you really need to see how many cards there are to understand.” The “Christmas miracle” started when Liz, from New York in America, shared a picture of her niece standing with the second hand card holder on Facebook. In the post, she said how Safyre’s wish was to fill up her new “card tree”. Safyre is being raised by her aunt Liz, who also takes care of her four children. PHOTO: facebook.com/Schenectadyssupersurvivor Safyre is being raised by her aunt Liz, who also takes care of her four children. PHOTO: facebook.com/Schenectadyssupersurvivor

'When our first Christmas card came in, it was like you handed this girl the world'

“When she said she can't wait to fill up the card tree my response was I don't think it's gonna get filled up but I am sure we will get a few more cards,” says Liz.

To her surprise, the post went viral and the little girl has since received Christmas cards, teddy bears, handmade jewellery and books and cards signed by entire classrooms.

"[We] never thought something like this was possible," says Liz.

In fact there were so many parcels that their local post office was overwhelmed, leading to the mail being handled by a much bigger branch.

“We got the most mail we’ve ever gotten for a single person in Schenectady,” says local Post Master John Reilly.

“It’s really wonderful, the outpouring of love for this family and this little girl.”

A 5-year-old boy in Hong Kong is said to have even sent his favourite teddy bear with a note that said “Let’s be friends.” The family plans to send the stuffed toy back with a “friend” so the bear doesn’t get “lonely” on the long trip back.

The young girl “can’t believe it,” says her aunt.  “When our first Christmas card came in, it was like you handed this girl the world.”

Although she survived the fire, the young girl lost her left foot and right hand. PHOTO: facebook.com/Schenectadyssupersurvivor Although she survived the fire, the young girl lost her left foot and right hand. PHOTO: facebook.com/Schenectadyssupersurvivor

It was in May 2013 that Safyre’s life changed forever. A fire broke out in the stairwell that led to her family’s apartment. The blaze, which police believe was intentional, claimed the lives of the girl’s father and younger siblings.

“Safyre lost everything – her father, her mother, her sister, her brothers, her home, her favourite toy, her favourite outfit – everything that was familiar to her," says Liz.

It was a heroic act by her father that ultimately saved Safyre’s life. By holding her in his arms, he shielded her from inhaling the dangerous smoke.

Although she survived the fire, the young girl lost her left foot and right hand. She also has had over 50 surgeries to graft skin over her burns.

"She even lost the one thing we all take for granted – her reflection. But she wakes every morning with a smile on her face. She is the true definition of hope, faith and love."

Since the fire, Safyre has been raised by Liz, who also takes care of her four children. Her husband Michael is said to have lost his long-time job because he took off so much time off work to look after Safyre after the fire. Touched by family’s story, one person created a crowdfunding account on YouCaring.com and it has since generated more than $300,000 (R4.4, million), surpassing the $15 000 (R224 000) goal.

The family, who is heading to Disneyland thanks to a sponsored trip by a charity, is still overwhelmed.

"I haven't found a word in my vocabulary to describe what has happened," says Liz.

“You always hear about those horrible things happening. And for this to happen - it restores your faith in humanity.”

Sources: nydailynews.com, people.com, dailymail.co.uk, abcnews.go.com, time.com, mirror.co.uk

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