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Sa'fyre Terry pays it forward at Schenectady shelter

Sa'fyre Terry pays it forward at Schenectady shelter

Marcy Hausman could hardly speak Thursday morning.
Sa'fyre Terry pays it forward at Schenectady shelter
Sa'fyre Terry greets Holley Shavery, human services aide at The Salvation Army Booth women's shelter in Schenectady, on Thursday. Sa'fyre was there to distribute gifts that she and her family brought.
Photographer: Erica Miller

Marcy Hausman could hardly speak Thursday morning.

The director at The Salvation Army’s women’s shelter on Lafayette Street had just received a Christmas Eve donation of games and toys for children of mothers at the shelter.

The source of those donations: fire survivor Sa’fyre Terry and her family.

“You’re going to make me cry” Hausman responded when asked about the donations.

“The fact that they care enough to spread the joy that Sa’fyre got, it’s just almost too much for me,” Hausman added a short time later.

Sa’fyre and her family Thursday visited two women’s shelters, starting the process of paying forward the generosity and cheer they’ve received in recent weeks.

The family visited the Salvation Army’s Evangeline Booth Miracle Home in Schenectady and the Unity House in Troy.

Sa’fyre, in her green Christmas dress, her cousins Jacob and Jasmine, and family and some friends went to deliver the toys and games in time for Christmas morning.

The family has received more than 660,000 Christmas cards and more than 16,000 packages since a call for Christmas cards first touched the hearts of Internet users nearly three weeks ago.

Sa’fyre’s aunt and caretaker Liz Dolder has said the family planned to keep the cheer going. Volunteers have been busy dealing with the postal avalanche.

They’ve only begun to go through the cards and packages. But, among the many items the family has received are gift cards. The family used some to purchase many of the gifts given Thursday. They also picked up some extra items for the mothers.

Dolder said giving fits into the girl that Sa’fyre is.

“She’s so humble,” Dolder said.

“It’s amazing,” she added. “It’s so amazing to be able to give back.”

At the Unity House in Troy, case manager Martha Lasher-Warner called the family’s visit there “wonderful.”

Unity House serves as a shelter for women who are victims of domestic violence, as well as their children. It currently houses 19 women and 14 children.

“It brought three or four of us to tears,” Lasher-Warner said of the gesture.

Sa’fyre, Jacob and Jasmine all posed with Unity House staff members for a picture during the visit.

“There are no words to express how grateful we are to them,” Lasher-Warner said, “doing that for our kids and our moms.”

The women at the shelter will get to pick out the toys for their children, wrap them and have them ready to open this morning, Lasher-Warner said.

“For them to instill in their kids to pay it forward is amazing,” Lasher-Warner added of the family. “It’s amazing.”

Sa’fyre is the only child to survive the devastating May 2, 2013, arson 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.

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. She now lives in Rotterdam with her aunt and uncle.

The Salvation Army’s Booth shelter in Schenectady has beds for 15 women and up to six children. Women go to the shelter for many reasons, Hausman said, from job difficulties, to eviction, and for other issues.

“We do the best that we can do, but the community giving is so important,” she said.

“We’ve got a lot of donors who never forget us, but this is extra special. When it comes from the kids to the kids, it just means so much.”

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