Emma Sevick’s effort started out small, too.
The high school sophomore from Coatesville, Pennsylvania, learned of Schenectady arson survivor Sa’fyre Terry’s story earlier this week, as well as the call to brighten the girl’s Christmas with cards, and Sevick quickly sent one off from her family.
Then came cards from one of her school clubs and as many others as she could get involved.
“They told me to get the whole school involved,” Sevick told The Daily Gazette Thursday afternoon via Twitter. “So that’s what I did.”
By the time Thursday’s Coatesville Area High School lunch period was over, she had 85 different messages of holiday cheer all ready to send out.
In big letters on each envelope, according to a photo Sevick provided, the name of the girl seemingly everyone worldwide wants to wish a Merry Christmas: Sa’fyre.
“I came across her story and my heart was touched,” Sevick explained, repeating the story that has captured the world’s attention. “It really made me think about how lucky some people are and how much humans take for granted.”
Many, many hearts have been touched by Sa’fyre’s story.
It’s been told on newscasts, in print, on radio and all over social media for days.
A sampling of comments posted to Sa’fyre’s Facebook page Thursday afternoon — and a steady stream of comments continued — showed well-wishers from across the United States, Canada and Europe. Others came from Taiwan, New Zealand and elsewhere.
Little 8-year-old Sa’fyre Terry has seemingly been added to everyone’s Christmas card list.
Story of loss, gain
Chris Chromik saw Sa’fyre’s story in his news feed at his home in London, England. He thought of his two boys, now age 7 and 11.
“After all the adversity, pain and loss, all she wanted was a simple card from around the world,” Chromik told The Daily Gazette via Facebook. “How could anyone refuse such a simple request?”
Chromik, like so many others, appeared to take Sa’fyre’s plight personally: “Posting today,” Chromik wrote on Sa’fyre’s Facebook page Thursday, “Merry Christmas Safyre.”
The worldwide effort began organically and slowly last week and took off Tuesday and has hardly slowed since.
What began as a simple post to Sa’fyre’s Facebook page announcing her family’s first Christmas card turned into a worldwide request for Christmas cheer via family friend Kevin Clark.
Sa’fyre’s story of loss and gain quickly struck a chord with the Internet and a phenomenon was born.
The girl is the only child to survive the devastating May 2, 2013, fire at 438 Hulett St. in Schenectady. The fire claimed the life of her father David Terry and her three siblings, Layah, 3, Michael, 2, and Donavan Duell, 11 months.
The arson remains unsolved, though a federal jury convicted one man last month for lying to a grand jury investigating the fire.
Pulled from the home by firefighters, Sa’fyre suffered severe burns and underwent months of surgeries and hospitalization. She lost a hand shortly after the fire and has since lost a foot. There are more surgeries to come. She uses a prosthetic to walk.
Sa’fyre’s first small shipment of cards came in Wednesday and she excitedly opened a few outside the Rotterdam [ost office with her aunt and caretaker Liz Dolder. Sa’fyre lives in Rotterdam with Dolder; her husband, Michael; and their twins, Jacob and Jasmine.
Five full trays of cards — more than 2,200 individual Merry Christmases — came Thursday, along with 40 packages, according to the U.S. Postal Service.
A spokeswoman noted, with most locations easily three days’ delivery away, the biggest volumes are expected going into this weekend.
“We are working with family to establish the right path to delivery, based on volumes,” spokeswoman Maureen Marion said via email Thursday afternoon. “We are ready for a short, but big spike in mail within the next 48 hours or so.”
(For those still wanting to send cards, the address is Sa’fyre Terry, P.O. Box 6126, Schenectady, NY 12306.)
Cards are coming individually and in groups. Schools and community organizations are getting together to send cards, spreading cheer through their own community as they go.
Andrea Lefebvre’s dance class at Chippewa Secondary School in North Bay, Ontario, lay out on their dance room floor to fill out their cards Thursday. Lefebvre, the class’s teacher, posted a photo of the effort to Twitter.
“We believe we have ‘one hand to help yourself, the other hand to help others,’ ” Lefebvre, who said she heard of Sa’fyre through CBC News and social media, told The Daily Gazette via Twitter. “We hope the cards help her celebrate a Happy Holiday!”
Amy Walker, of White Cloud, Mich., and her 12-year-old daughter Dixie heard about Sa’fyre through their local ABC affiliate in Grand Rapids.
They responded by gathering cheer through their small town West Michigan town of 1,400.
Walker and her daughter went to her school, making sure the teachers knew. They also went around town posting notes about the girl.
“We don’t have a lot of money, but I made the trip this morning and posted at least 10 notes about Sa’fyre and told as many people as I could about her,” Walker told The Daily Gazette via Facebook.
“It’s so awesome,” Walker added later, “how one little girl can bring so many people together.”