CLEVELAND-The mother of Alianna DeFreeze is opening her heart to FOX 8 hoping to help other families torn apart by violence having a hard time celebrating the holidays. But this mother needs help from you.
Last winter, Alianna, just 14 years old, disappeared on her way to school. Investigators say a convicted sex offender kidnapped her, killed her and left her in a vacant home on Cleveland’s southeast side.
Her mother, Donnesha Cooper, admits she is struggling emotionally this Christmas season, the first without Alianna. But Cooper is teaming up with other activists to put on a holiday party for other families just like hers left devastated by violence. Cooper thought about her three-year-old son. Is it fair to innocent kids to have no Christmas tree, no joy this season?
Cooper said, "Just need to be around other people, other families who know what you're going through, you know, and maybe we can help each other." She added, "I get the strength from my daughter. She wouldn't want me sitting around feeling sorry for myself, and she loved to do more to help other people."
Princess Moore is a local activist also helping to organize a holiday party for families hurt by crimes. Moore said, "Pretty much my vision of rebuilding a village one person at a time, one family at a time, one child at a time."
Organizers have found the demand overwhelming, so they’ve set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.
Meantime, the push to get justice for what happened to Alianna hangs over this holiday season. The trial for the accused killer has been set for next month. Nothing fair about what that child went through, but the suspect is filing all kinds of court papers trying to make sure he gets a fair trial.
Alianna’s mom has already been active in pushing to make the streets safer for kids going to school. After the Christmas party, she plans to form a support group for families and more.
The memory of Alianna has become an inspiration through the toughest of times. Cooper said, “One family, one person at a time, is not a drop in the bucket. It's the beginning of a wave."