Ex-cons provide Christmas surprise for local kids scarred by domestic violence

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two ex-convicts who are feeling the Christmas spirit this holiday season are helping three children who lost their parents to domestic violence.

Jawad Abdu and Paul Taylor spend countless hours at the Youth Excel & Advancement center finding ways to give back to their community. Tuesday night, they surprised three children scarred by domestic violence with an unforgettable Christmas.

Santa Claus came a few days early for 3-year-old Markeem and his 5-year-old sister, Ke’Miyah.

“it feels wonderful, it feels wonderful, keeping a smile on their face,” Ke’Miyah’s father, Keshard Howard, said.

Howard, whose sister was killed following a domestic dispute just days before Thanksgiving, said his family finds it hard to smile these days after experiencing nearly a year’s worth of tragedy.

“Unreal year, you know? Unreal,” Williams’ mother, Rachelle Wells, said. “And I’m still hurting because of what happened to my daughter.”

Markeem and Ke’Miyah’s mother, Shaquanda Walker, was killed by her boyfriend back in February.

“To you know, have my son go through worse tragedies and to have people care outside the bloodline, that means a lot to me,”Markeem’s father, Marcus Hopson said.

Taylor and Abdu, meanwhile, said they’re no strangers to experiencing hardships. Hearing what the three children have gone through inspired them to provide the children with an escape from reality.

“If I had something to keep my mind off of it or someone to come through like we’re coming through, then it would have done something,” Abdu said.

By the looks on their faces Tuesday night, such a surprise can make all the difference.

“You try to look for the good when something happens like this,” Renita’s aunt, Laveisha Goode, said. “Seeing a smile on the kids’ faces brings us a little bit of comfort, even just for a moment.”

In addition to Tuesday’s Christmas surprise, both Abdu and Taylor are also in the process of creating a basketball league to help keep crime off the streets.

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