“Savanah’s Legacy Fund” at ODF In Memory of Savanah (Sam) Stanley to Benefit Youth Summer Campers
Do you remember or have you seen the 1982 movie entitled Savannah Smiles? It’s a “feel good” movie one remembers, makes you smile and tugs at your heart.
Today we share a different story about Savanah and her smile. One you will remember, make you smile and tug at your heart. It’s the story of Savanah Michelle Stanley (Sam) and her legacy. It’s a story of family, faith, friends and a passion for church camp. It’s also a story about goodness, gifts and hope for the future.
Savanah was a member of the First Christian Church, Sulphur. She spent many summers as a camper and counselor at Texoma Christian Camp. Church camp helped deepen her faith and the friendships she cultivated there shaped her life. Unfortunately, Savanah’s life was cut short when she suddenly passed away in November 2020 at the age of 28.
Her family and friends were devastated. In the months following her passing, her family considered ways to honor her life and her giving heart for which she was known for and loved by all who knew her. Savanah’s family ultimately decided to honor her legacy by establishing a permanent scholarship fund at the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation (ODF) to allow churches to apply for grant funds through ODF’s Grant Program. The funds are dedicated to assist with tuition for youth who may want to attend a Christian church camp, but would otherwise be unable to afford it.
On September 4, 2021, what would have been Savanah’s 29th birthday, the family publicly announced the establishment of “Savanah’s Legacy Fund” in honor and memory of Savanah (Sam), her smile and her giving heart. The family created a dedicated website (https://www.savanahslegacyfund.org/) and an Instagram account to promote gifts to this fund as taxable donations to charity as well as share stories of Savanah, information about the fund and the camper/churches helped by this fund.
ODF has also created a “Savanah’s Legacy Fund” donation page and will be sharing stories of the grants provided by this fund and the individuals they touch.
“Her favorite activity as a child and a young adult was attending the Texoma Christian Camp with her home church in Sulphur,” wrote her aunt Amber England. “She attended as a camper and as a counselor for many years. Our family would love to continue that legacy by gifting scholarships to children in need of tuition assistance.”
Savanah graduated from Sulphur High School in 2011 and attended the Ardmore Higher Education Center and Seminole State College before spending most of her young life working in the service industry. Prior to her passing, she had decided she wanted to have a career in social work to keep children safe from dangerous situations. Children were her passion. She loved kids and was very protective of them.
“She loved being with children, and children loved her,” said Rev. Colton Lott, El Reno, in Savanah’s (Sam’s) eulogy. “She would stand up for the underdog each and every day.”
“I met Savanah at camp. She was my best friend,” he said. “She was wonderful, easy-going, non-judgmental, accepting, childlike and sometimes a bit mischievous.”
“Savanah had such a heart for seeing people who might be feeling ill at ease in a group or in need of a listening ear,” said Kathy Standridge, Youth Director at First Christian Church, Sulphur. “She was active at camp through her years in school and came back a few times as a counselor in training helping with younger kids.”
Savanah’s obit stated, “ Savanah’s legacy will be how she made those she loved and those that loved her feel – always welcoming and kind, friend for life, forever loved and never judged.” Click here to make a gift to Savanah’s Legacy on our website.