Bereaved families who've lost a child gathered Tuesday night for a special service to remember their loved ones and offer support to each other during the holidays.
It was an emotional evening at New Hope Christian Fellowship on Sand Island, where the parents of young children who've died gathered to remember them by hanging Christmas ornaments with their photos.
"And then that awful sunken feeling came into my gut and I thought, 'He couldn't mean she died,'" said Tracy Ah Mook Sang, who addressed the audience, along with her husband Jason.
Their 15-year-old daughter Makamae died of alcohol poisoning after a party in 2009.
In the years since Makamae's death, her mother has spoken to numerous school and community groups to discourage underage drinking.
"I feel like Makamae is teaming up with me even though she's not here, I feel like we both, every time I leave a talk, I always say, 'Makamae, we did it again!' And I feel like we're still in partnership, we're still together doing something to help others," Tracy Ah Mook Sang said.
She said the story of her daughter's death touches school children of all ages.
"How they come up to me crying, even high school football boys coming up and just thanking me for the encouragement," she said.
"We hold your hearts with tender hands,? Max Neves told the crowd. He is the president of the Joshua Neves Children's Foundation, named in memory of his three-year-old son, who died of complications from the H-1-N-1 virus two years ago.
"And that's why we put this on during the holidays, is so that people can come together and realize that they're not alone in this, that they are loved, than they can be cared for," Neves said.
The nonprofit, run by Neves and his wife Erica, helps families who've suffered the loss of a child.
"So that we could help people financially with bereavement costs, with food, with incidentals, like someone asked for gas money just to get to the hospital to see their family," Neves said.
The nonprofit -- which sponsored Tuesday night?s event -- said it's helped 15 to 20 families in the brief year and a half since its founding.
Besides financial support, the foundation offers counseling, advice and other assistance to families who've lost a child, Neves said.