Families who lost loved ones to homicide come together for a holiday party

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC)- Every year, Rise up Rochester hosts families who have lost loved one to homicide support each other at a Christmas party.

Leaders say the event gives families a place to share experiences and learn from each other.  

Families and friends spent the Rise Up Rochester Christmas party playing games, winning prizes, and watching performances.  

The event is meant to bring together families who have faced some of the toughest tragedies, families like that of event organizer Marcella Cunnningham. 

“I myself lost my son to gun violence 3 years ago and that’s how I got started I just want them to know that they’re not alone, that we’re here for them.,” said Marcella Cunningham, organizer with Rise up Rochester.

28 homicides happened in Rochester in 2018. The prevalence of violence in the community was felt by families at the party.

Some say the holiday party comes at a times during the season who families need the most support.  

“It’s very trying during the holiday season with losing someone but they help you get through it a lot. Yeah because it keeps the memories going of everyone,” said Nekeesha Lee, who lost a son to violence.

“My son was murder 7 months ago, I can’t even count the months it was May 4th of this year. So, it’s a little somber for me this year but it’s so appreciative to see that there’s so many people that’s supporting you,” said Leslie Gordon Ogden, who lost son to violence.

Over 100 children were registered for the event and prizes were given out throughout the event.  

Organizers say the numbers grow every year and giving back is what makes the event special. 

“It so amazing when the kids open up their little gifts and see what they have they’re so surprised just to see they eyes light up its awesome,” said Ogden.

Organizers say, one of the main goals of the event was to making sure families don’t feel alone during the holiday season.

Anyone in the community looking to get involved with Rise up Rochester can go to there website here.

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