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Justice Coalition, Seamstress give custom teddy bears to grieving families who lost loved ones to gun violence

Dealing with the loss of a loved can be a challenge that's why the Justice Coalition and a local seamstress are providing healing and hope for the holiday

Friday night, seven families gathered to celebrate and honor their lost loved ones. Each year, the Justice Coalition hosts its Season To Remember event to aide families in the grieving process.

The event was held at Redemption Church on the Westside.

Earlier this year, Tina Gray lost her son to gun violence.

“It’s a forever process that will never stop you know," Tina Gray said. "It flips your whole world upside down to begin with and then you just kind of deal with it day-to-day. You become a new you, you know, not the same person."

Her son, Trevor Gray, was just 20 years old when he was shot and killed in Arlington. His death marked the first homicide investigation of the year for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

"Trevor was compassionate and had a big heart, would give you the shirt off his back," Tina Gray said. "He would help anybody in need, that is why we started Compassionate Warriors in his honor to carry him forward."

The special celebration is made possible with the help of local seamstress, Shirley Wright. This is Wright’s second year volunteering her sewing services.

“I’m not a huger, so it’s my way of providing comfort to those who need it,” Wright said.

Wright has been hard at work creating tangible gifts to provide a little hope for the holiday. Each bear is made from the fabric of the clothing worn by the victims.

“Through bears made out of that clothing, they are able to conjure the memories associated with that person,” Wright said. “They can touch it, they can feel it, they can hug it, and I hope in some way my bears bring comfort and can fill some kind of a void that they need filling.”

The goal is to help keep memories alive and serve as an aide to press on.

The Justice Coalition is a local non-profit that is aimed at helping victims of violent crimes in North East Florida. Jo-Lee Manning is the executive director.

“It’s a way of honoring their loved one who has been lost and just lets them know we haven’t forgotten about their loved one," Manning said.