Unique bears help bring comfort to Jacksonville families of violent crime victims

Justice Coalition gives bears made of victims’ clothing to grieving families

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s a holiday tradition for the Justice Coalition — honoring innocent victims of violent crime.

The Justice Coalition presented “Seasons to Remember” on Friday, a chance to bring some peace to local families at what can be a painful time of year.

It’s usually attended by those with hurting hearts. Loved ones of those whose lives were cut short.

A church service and a chance to hand out handmade bears designed with clothing from their lost loved ones.

Janette Adams lost her son to violence.

“It’s an honor to be in the midst of, all of us, to be an encouragement by one another,” Adams said.

Adams lost her son in October. Travis James Sr. was gunned down outside a Sunoco Station while waiting for his uncle to pick him up. She said the Justice Coalition stepped in to help.

“To let us know we’re not alone, that we have someone to depend on, someone who’s there for you, with you to stand with you through the court,” she said.

Tina Gray’s son Trevor was Jacksonville’s first murder of 2019.

It’s been a tough road for her, but she said the bears bring comfort.

“There is no other bear, you have something to remember your loved one by. You have a part of that person with you through this bear,” Adams said.

Shirley Wright, the woman who designs the bears, said it’s her mission.

“My husband says that God plants you where you need to bloom,” Wright said. “So, I was in the right place at the right time and I feel like this is where I need to be to help families going through a process.”

Jo-Lee Manning, Executive Director of the Justice Coalition, said some families have a hard time parting with clothing from their loved ones.

“It’s hard for some of the families to give up but, you know in the end you get something that you can really hold and bring comfort to you," Manning said.

Compassionate Warriors is planning a candlelight vigil for all victims of violent crime in Jacksonville on Dec. 28 at 5:30 at Friendship Fountain on the Southbank. Everyone is invited.

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