Michael Cseh saw many well wishes Sunday.
He saw them as he joined dozens of people at the Rotterdam home of Sa’fyre Terry and her family, working on behalf of the 8-year-old arson victim to process the tens of thousands of Christmas cards sent her way.
And what did Cseh see in all the Christmas cards he processed?
To put it simply, hope.
“I think she’s brought a lot of courage and a lot of spirt to a lot of folks throughout the world that really needed to see courage,” he said.
“It’s been very powerful,” the Rotterdam man said.
Friends, relatives, bikers and local Girl Scouts all volunteered their time on Sa’fyre’s behalf Sunday to open as many cards as possible amid a surge in Christmas spirit that may not have even crested yet.
Mail started pouring in Wednesday as an online call for cards touched hearts worldwide. And the numbers have only grown as letters and packages sent at the height of last week’s eruption of support begin to arrive.
In the middle of it all Sunday were Sa’fyre’s aunt and uncle, Liz and Michael Dolder. The two have cared for and watched over Sa’fyre as she recovered from extensive injuries suffered in the devastating May 2, 2013, arson that killed her father and three siblings.
“We had so many people from all different walks of life come together,” Liz Dolder explained as the day’s effort wrapped up and Sa’fyre played with other children present.
With such an outpouring, Dolder knows she can’t hope to thank everyone individually. Instead, she intends to pick some at random and send return cards. For the rest, the thank yous continue on Sa’fyre’s Facebook page.
“I went to the dollar store and got dollar [Christmas] cards” before it all started, Dolder noted. “I think I’ve got to do something a little better than that.”
The sheer number of cards aside, Dolder also expressed astonishment at the cards sent. “Have you seen the amazing Christmas cards they make these days?” Dolder asked. “I mean, we’re covered in glitter. Everybody here’s covered in glitter.”
In addition to cards, the world is also sending packages — way more than any little girl can hope to receive and use herself.
Dolder said the family intends to work with other organizations to ensure the gifts are forwarded to other needy children and continue to brighten lives. Details are being worked out.
“We’re going to pay it forward,” Dolder said. “We’re going to pay it forward.”
Among the motorcyclists helping out were members of local clubs the Steel Riders, Smoke and Iron and the Norlanders. The local biker community and many others played key roles in efforts to help Sa’fyre and her family in the 21⁄2 years since the fire. Cseh is president of the Steel Riders.
Duane Rapp, of the Smoke & Iron motorcycle club, worked to process a table of cards with his family.
“It’s amazing, just absolutely amazing,” Rapp said. “You know the bad stuff you see on the news all day long? And you come here to see this?”
A sampling of cards in one tray Sunday included postmarks from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Washington (both the state and D.C.) and Texas.
To find the impact of Sa’fyre’s story and the story of her Christmas, one needn’t look to Texas, or even beyond the corps of volunteers working Sunday.
Cseh has felt it himself.
He explained that his mother passed away during the holiday season 14 years ago. Since then, he hadn’t celebrated Christmas, for he had nothing to celebrate.
This year, though, because of Sa’fyre’s story, he put up a Christmas tree.
“Seeing her and the shining power she has and all the friends who are around us today, made me realize that you can’t be sad forever,” Cseh said.
“It’s brought everybody together from every walk of life through one person,” he added later. “Not just throughout the world, but here at home.”