Debi Angrisano traveled to Rotterdam from Troy today to volunteer her time opening some of the well-over 1 million Christmas cards sent to 8-year-old burn victim Safyre Terry.
Angrisano heard on Facebook about the effort to open cards and decided to head to Rotterdam.
“It’s an international story and I thought, ‘Of course I want to be a part of this. I’m from there,’ ” Angrisano said. “I had the day off, so why not?”
Safyre Terry’s name has been spelled various ways in the media. Her name on her birth certificate is spelled “Safyre Terry.” That is the spelling her family wishes to be used.
After only a couple of hours opening cards, Angrisano added: “It’s been as rewarding as I thought.”
Organizers of Safyre’s Angels, the organization created to help open the world’s wishes to Safyre, appealed today for the public’s help in getting all the cards open.
Safyre’s Angels last week moved into a 20,000-square-foot space at the Rotterdam Industrial Park donated by the Galesi Group, a real-estate developer based in Schenectady.
Volunteers have been working since the cards started coming in a month ago, but the shear numbers mean the effort could take months.
Today, representatives of the Capital Region Toys for Tots, U.S. Postal Service and individuals who have worked tirelessly to coordinate the effort held a press conference to formally debut the warehouse space and to invite more people to volunteer.
The warehouse space is open each day starting at 10 a.m. On weekdays, card opening will continue until 8 or 9 p.m. On weekends, it will last until 5. Further information and updates are available on the Safyre’s Angels Facebook page.
The park is located on Duanesburg Road; directions to the space are available at the park guard shack.
“We need volunteers to come out and help us so that each piece of this mail does get touched and we can complete the full circle,” said Lance Corp. Rachel Fredericks, events coordinator with Capital Region Toys for Tots.
Safyre 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.
Safyre, 5 years old at the time, suffered severe burns and underwent months of surgeries and hospitalization. She lives with her aunt and uncle in Rotterdam and spent today in Boston’s Shriner’s Hospital following up from a surgery performed last week.
The million Christmas cards came after a family friend sent out a challenge to fill the Rotterdam family’s small card tree for Safyre. The Internet community instead sent enough for a warehouse.
More than a dozen volunteers worked today opening cards. Volunteers opened them, read the messages and then sorted anything sent inside of them. Card faces with no writing are being saved for an organization that sends Christmas wishes for military personnel.
Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, [email protected] or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.