Teens work to help families impacted by violence during holidays

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Indianapolis teens are working to make sure families impacted by violence have a merry Christmas this holiday season.

Next weekend, We LIVE Inc., an organization started by teenagers after the murder of two classmates, will host a Christmas party. But organizers say it’s about a lot  more than presents.

“Just giving them the Christmas that they wouldn’t have experienced at home,” organizer Destiny Hatcher said.

We LIVE Inc. has arranged for 10 families, including about 46 kids, to be sponsored for the holiday. The event will include food, carols, games, and a meet and greet with Santa. It will bring together youth and families impacted by violence in some way.

“I feel like it’s gonna be filled with a lot of holiday spirits but it’s honestly going to be a lot of remembrance, so it’ll be quite bit of emotions involved as well,” organizer Brandon Warren said.

It’s a bright spot in a tough time for some mothers who have lost their children.

“It’s helping us get through this tough time and want to enjoy it,” Jennifer Cameron said.

“It helped me feel like I have a reason to enjoy this time, this holiday time,” Katherine Duncan said.

Katherine Duncan’s son, Chris, died in a crash. Jennifer Cameron’s son, JeShon, was shot and killed earlier this year. There are no words to describe their loss, but the emotions are still tough when they see more violence unfold on Indianapolis streets.

“It’s extremely painful. There’s no words that can describe it, so my hope and prayer and goal is that we can all come together all ages,” Cameron said.

This week, the city said U.S. Department of Justice representatives met with officials from IMPD, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and Marion County Community Corrections to start developing a three year strategic plan to address gun violence in Indianapolis.

It’s part of the city’s participation in the National Public Safety Partnership.

Law enforcement officials said the plan with align with police’s efforts to address violence. That includes focusing on illegal possession of firearms by violence offenders and neighborhood level interventions. The city said it’s also awarded nearly $3 million to grassroots organizations working on crime prevention.

But for families who have already had tragedy hit, the teens with We LIVE Inc. are hoping coming together helps heal and prevent any more loss.

“We’ve all lost closed loved ones to youth violence and we’re all here for each other as a big congregation of one big family,” Warren said.

The teens said while the ten families are already sponsored, there’s always room for more.

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