PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Christmas morning at the Lynch home in Virginia Beach featured mother Marva and father Wayne on the lookout as teenagers Donovon and Lauryn got up extra early to open their presents.
After comparing present notes, they would gather presents picked out for their collection of beloved cousins. It was then off to grandma’s, where the cousins would compare presents while waiting for grandma’s turkey, dressing, ham, yams and mac and cheese.
That was basically the same preferred meal prepared a month earlier for Thanksgiving.
This Thanksgiving, two seats will be empty. Cancer took Marva’s life in 2018. Three years later, on March 26, a bullet fired by a uniformed Virginia Beach police officer took 25-year-old Donovon’s life.
At Donovon’s funeral, his cousin Pharrell Williams offered a glimpse of the family’s grief and their frustration with the official Virginia Beach police explanation on why deadly force was used on a beloved member of the family and community.
“My mom died in 2018 she had stomach cancer, she passed away. Then three years later — this year — my brother was shot and killed by Virginia Beach city police. It’s been a lot. I’m young, only 20. It’s been a lot,” said Lauryn Lynch in a Zoom interview.
As the tragedy remains under investigation, the Lynch family is reaching out to single fathers in need. Through a program called Don’s Gift, the Lynch family will provide holiday gifts for academically motivated children of two deserving single fathers. Jackie Horton, a Lynch family advocate, is organizing the event.
“We are going to adopt families. We are looking for single fathers who have children. They don’t have to be in school. If they are, they would have to prove the children are making the honor roll,” Horton said.
10 On Your Side asked Lauryn Lynch how the family manages to give from the heart when so much has been taken from them over the years.
“I honestly think, as I said, it’s because that’s something that was instilled in us that we grew up on like our mom always taught us to be givers,” Lauryn Lynch said.
Gifts of clothing, shoes, and electronics will be given to two families who can demonstrate need and prove their school-aged children are honor roll students. The Donovon Wayne Lynch Foundation is also accepting donations from those who want to join their effort.