8-year-old arson survivor finds hope in Christmas cards
Unlike many children at Christmas, eight-year-old Safyre Terry only wanted one thing: to fill her tree with Christmas cards.
Safyre survived an arson attack two years ago that killed her father, sister and two brothers. She suffers from severe burns covering 75% of her body and lost her right hand and foot as a result of the injuries. She now lives with her aunt, Liz Dolder, along with Dolder's husband and their own set of 8-year-old twins.
To celebrate the holidays, Dolder bought her niece a Christmas tree stand to hold cards. After posting a picture online to celebrate, the family have been inundated with cards and a crowdfunding account has raised over $220,000 (£145,000) for future medical costs.
"I've cried so many happy tears, I think I'm going into dehydration," Dolder told BBC Trending.
When they received her first holiday card, they posted on Facebook underneath a picture of Safyre and her card tree.
"Safyre is thrilled we got our first Christmas card. Thank you Aunt Lonnie. Safyre is excited to fill up the card tree. Sending out lots of holiday cheer," wrote Dolder.
Safyre was excited to fill up the tree, but her aunt warned her to be realistic. "We don't sugar coat anything in our house. The world is going to end up being honest with her, so I warned her we won't get that many cards, but we'll get a few," Dolder told the BBC.
Local resident Kevin Clark shared the picture writing, "I wonder how many of my friends would take the time to write and send Safyre a Merry Christmas card that she can hang on her card tree."
Clark met the family during a fundraiser held by his motorcycle club earlier this year.
Clark's post has been shared over 32,000 times since sharing the picture, and Safyre's family have now received over 300 cards
The attention drew people to an older crowdfunding page that had been set up in September to support Safyre's medical costs, with current donations far surpassing the original $15,000 goal.
Cards have been sent from across the US, with people asking how they can send additional cards from as far as Uganda, Mexico and Poland.
Before the post went viral, Dolder was concerned about how their family would afford the year ahead. Her husband lost his job in August, and last year's holes in the walls are covered with Christmas decorations since renovations are too costly. Medical coverage was proving expensive, and they risked losing the house to foreclosure.
Dolder says that they will use the money to find a stable home for their family and to set up a trust for Safyre's education.
"She's my reason. I knew that when she was saved from the fire. The world is so filled with hate. Never in our wildest dreams did we think that she'd bring the world together over Christmas cards."
Cards can be sent to Safyre, PO Box 6126, Schenectady, NY, 12306.
Blog by Olivia Lace-Evans
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