The family of 8-year-old Olivia Schneider, who died in a house fire in Mayfield Heights, will fulfill her dream to help people on Christmas by holding a toy drive in her honor.
With the help of Mayfield Heights and surrounding communities, the Olivia Schneider toy drive will take place from Dec. 10 to Dec 15. The proceeds will go to Toys for Tots. The family asks for people to drop off donations to the following locations:
Olivia and her mother, Rebecca Pletnewski, were killed in a house fire on Nov 20. Mayfield Heights police say Pletnewski was stabbed to death before the home was intentionally set on fire by her neighbor. Olivia died of smoke inhalation.
Dominique Swopes, 27, was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated murder and aggravated arson.
Olivia’s father, Kurt Schneider, says his daughter, a third grader at Lander Elementary, was selfless. He says she had a big heart and always wanted people to be happy. Two months ago, he says Olivia told him she wanted to do a toy drive. He says it was a "wow" moment. Her father was amazed at her kindness.
Schneider says there was never a goal for Olivia’s toy drive. He says she just wanted to help children in need.
“She didn’t know how much she wanted to raise,” he said. “Whether it was three toys or 300 toys, It didn’t matter. She knows with those three toys she would have made kids just as happy.”
The loss of the Olivia, along with her mother Rebecca Pletnewski, stunned the Mayfield Heights community. But, their grief has fueled their determination to make sure Olivia's dream come true. Schneider says he is thankful.
"It really hits me pretty hard seeing everyone participate in this and it means the world to me," he said.
Schneider says after the toy drive, he will look to create a non-profit in Olivia's name.
"This foundation of giving back and helping other families. If they have to go through tragedies. I think that's Olivia's legacy. That's her stamp on the world that she left behind. It is changing a mentality of others helping others."