Sondra Stephens, center, stands with two marines during last year’s Toys for Tots campaign.
continued Businesses helping her with the effort include Ellis Medicine, First Niagara Bank on Union Street, Freihofer’s and Plumbers and Steamfitters Local No. 7 of Latham. Also, Hartz Cleaners in Schenectady dry cleaned over 150 used coats free of charge. She worked with Assemblyman George Amedore’s office to figure out where the coats would be dropped off and how many were needed.
She said the generosity of her customers, friends and local businesses went beyond her expectations.
“We didn’t start this out as a big production. We were able to get all these coats and it is amazing,” she said. “It is just overwhelming to know that people that lost everything didn’t have a winter coat.”
She said she doesn’t do anything but have an idea, and it is other people who support the idea and cause that make it truly happen.
“I have wonderful friends and clients that help me, I do nothing,” she said. “I owe it all to all the wonderful people in the community and my friends and clients that always show up.”
There is one teen from Niskayuna she said has been donating toys he receives as birthday gifts for years now. He started out as a small kid, but now she said he is 6 feet tall and still donating his gifts every year.
“That kid started several years ago when he was little … he will make a wonderful example for other people as he goes to college,” she said. “If we can empower young people to be compassionate and if I can empower young women … it gives me something to leave behind.”
Her upcoming charity event is the “Stuff the Truck” on Saturday, Nov. 26, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of LT’s Grill in the new ShopRite Square off Balltown Road in Niskayuna. The fire truck getting “stuffed” will be from the Niskayuna Fire Department District 1. If you bring an unwrapped toy to help out the effort, you’ll also be entered to win a 14K Diamond Star Pendant.
Stephens said when her time comes she doesn’t want to be remembered only for her jewelry.
“You don’t want to die and just say, ‘Well, she was a great jeweler,’” she said.