With a goal set to raise at least $500 for the local Toys for Tots campaign this December, a Town Creek resident actually collected $1,400 in an annual fundraiser held in her late daughter’s memory.
Jennifer Williams Stewart began the Sadie’s Toys for Tots fundraiser to support Toys for Tots of Lawrence, Morgan and Cullman counties after losing her four-year-old daughter in April of 2017.
“Grief is such a difficult journey, especially during the holidays,” Stewart said. “A part of our girl still lives on… We buy toys that she liked and what we think she would be like now. Her favorite was PJ Mask & Paw Patrol. This year, (Sadie’s 13-year-old sister) Lillie helped pick out the toys from her age group.”
Sadie RaeLynn Stewart tragically lost her life prematurely following a fire at the Stewart home on April 26, 2017. Though she was rescued from the burning house, she spent the next couple of days on a ventilator because the smoke was too much for her already fragile lungs, her mother said.
The Stewarts’ daughter had been born early at 28 weeks on Feb. 12, 2013.
“She weighed only one pound and 11 ounces, and was only 13 inches long. Being born so early we expected her to have some health issues,” Stewart said. “She was born with chronic lung disease from being exposed to oxygen so early. She spent 98 days in Huntsville's Women & Children's NICU. She was super sassy and had a silly personality. She was definitely a Daddy's girl.”
Sadie passed away on April 28 from damage her lungs sustained in the house fire. Her family decided Sadie would serve as an organ donor after her uncle had been a liver recipient and underwent a transplant a few years before her passing.
“(We have) seen first-hand how important organ donation truly is. There are children who are healthy because of Sadie’s gift of life,” Stewart said.
Last week, the Stewart family—Jennifer, Anthony and Lillie—presented Sadie’s Toys for Tots $1,400 in toy donations to the Toys for Tots campaign in Lawrence, Morgan and Cullman counties. They honor their daughter’s memory by conducting the toy drive in her honor each year.