CLEVELAND - The mother of Alianna DeFreeze says she found renewed strength in giving back to grieving families just hours after the home her 14-year-old daughter was murdered inside was demolished.
"It was needed," Donnesha Cooper said. "It's just a small sense of closure. It can't ever replace my little girl... That house doesn't deserve to stand. It's just a house of horrors."
Cooper did not witness the demolition of the home Friday, instead choosing to focus on a holiday party in Alianna's memory.
Her daughter was kidnapped and murdered nearly two years ago. Christopher Whitaker, the man convicted of her murder, was sentenced to death.
"She was just a little girl and it was senseless act of violence," Cooper said.
Cooper joined other organizations in finding ways to give back to the community by shopping for toys collected by IAFF Local 93 during the 12th Annual Cleveland Firefighters Christmas Toy Drive.
Firefighters assisted Cooper in selecting toys for children she plans to give gifts. Firefighters said the drive began for children in hospitals, orphanages, shelters and also for children experiencing tragedy.
"Just to be able to help her out a little bit and help her, to help other children, put a smile on their face for Christmas, it means a lot," said Brian Webb of Local 93.
Cooper's party is planned for Dec. 23 at 5537 Broadway Ave. in Cleveland. She said she is working to collect enough toys for 100 children and is in need of additional donations.
"It's amazing picturing the joy in their eyes when they get these presents and the happiness that they feel in this happy, but sad holiday," Cooper said.
"Heartbreaking, it really is, but I hope that I can bring comfort to other families."
Cooper said donations can be made at any Key Bank under the Black Empowerment Fund.