TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for those who have lost loved ones to violence, it’s not always a happy holiday.
“It’s going to to be hard, but we’ll get through it,” said Justine Alcoser, who lost her best friend and her son’s uncle, Vashaun Baker, in October.
“Every last few holidays, he was at my family’s house plus his house and, he was just a joy to be around," said Alcoser.
The holiday tradition is hosted by Homicide Survivors, Inc., a nonprofit victim assistance organization dedicated to meeting the crisis and long term needs of families of murder victims. Every December, the group coordinates with family members of victims, the Pima County Attorney’s Office and other community partners to hand out gifts to children who are mourning the murder of a parent, guardian, or loved one.
“Last year was really hard and this year, seems to be just as hard. You know, I can’t get over this yet," said Jeannie Ridgley, at the event with her two grandsons, Jacob and Jayden, Thursday evening.
Ridgley’s son, Greg, was shot and killed in a home off East 28th Street in August of 2017. Tucson Police said people ran from the home after the shooting and it did not appear to be random.
“They’re a spitting image of their daddy," said Ridgley. “These are my pride and joys right here, they are very special to me.”
It’s pride, joy and hope for Jeannie this holiday, making spirits bright at least for one night this season.
“It means a lot to me because I know that these people here care.”