By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Scores of anti-violence groups joined forces to declare December a “Month of Peace” in Philadelphia. They’re asking for zero homicides this holiday.

Homicide and violence has claimed 293 lives in Philadelphia this year, up 15 percent since this time in 2016.

“We want people to be able to celebrate these holidays and not be worried about burying another loved one,” said Movita Johnson Harell.

Harell started the Charles Foundation after her son Charles was gunned down in 2011. Her nonprofit is one of 70 groups that make up the Philadelphia Anti-violence Coalition.

Chair, Bilal Qayyum says the coalition is rolling out a number of initiatives throughout December, including crisis intervention training, distribution of free gunlocks at Septa Stations, night walks, a free concert, and efforts both on social media and in the streets – imploring individuals to put the guns down.

“We have to save our children, we have to save our loved ones, and most importantly, we have to save our city,” Qayyum said.

The Month of Peace begins Friday and runs throughout December.

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