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Family, friends of Cherish Perrywinkle prepare to say final goodbyes

4:19 PM, Jun 26, 2013   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Candlelight vigil for Cherish Perrywinkle
Viewing and funeral services for Cherish Perrywinkle will be held at Paxon Revival Center Church on Commonwealth Avenue.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In less than 24 hours, family and friends of Cherish Perrywinkle will say their final goodbyes. Funeral preparations are underway for what Cherish's pastor is calling a 'celebration of her life.'

Several funeral homes offered their services for free, but Hardage-Giddens Town and Country Funeral Home will be donating their services, the cemetery plot and headstone for little Cherish.

"They reach out as soon as they hear that something like this has happened to find out 'what can we do?'" said Ann Dugger with The Justice Coalition.

Dugger is helping Cherish's family with the funeral arrangements and said that in 18 years of helping victims of violence, she always feels like she's dealing with tragedy for the first time.

CONTINUING COVERAGE: Cherish Perrywinkle investigation

"I pray that I never become so callous that it wouldn't touch my heart," said Dugger.

The viewing and funeral services for 8-year-old Cherish will be held at Paxon Revival Center Church. Senior pastor Steve Dobbs said she's been going to the church for the past four years.

"A very sweet girl; the children's pastors and all of them loved her. She was very respectful, very thankful," said Pastor Dobbs.

The child's father, Billy Jarreau, flew in from California to bury his daughter and released a statement saying in part:

"No words can describe how I feel right now. At this time, nothing makes sense. I am in shock and disbelief that my precious Cherish is gone."

Dugger said she's been at Rayne Perrywinkle's home a lot the last few days and says the girl's mother has been struggling with what happened Friday night.

"She beats herself up about it every few minutes; that how in the world could she have placed her trust in somebody," said Dugger.

Pastor Dobbs said the service is going to be like no other.

"It's not going to be the typical funeral that is going to be a downer," said Dobbs. "I want to make her live forever because I believe that she's alive forever in Heaven, so I want, when people they leave here on Friday I want them to see a live girl that is in Heaven with Jesus and not a little girl that's in the hole."

The viewing will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Paxon Revival Center Church at 5461 Commonwealth Avenue. The funeral services will also be held at the church Friday at 2 p.m. The services are open to the public.

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