Rockford's homeless remembered during annual service

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - On the shortest day of the year, the community gathers to remember the nearly four dozen who died without a warm place to sleep in 2017.

43 candles were lit representing the homeless men and women ranging in age from 26 to 67-years-old.

Members of the Rock River Homeless Coalition say Thursday's ceremony is a way to pay their respects to those who have been lost in the community.

''They're friends and family. We always want to say our last goodbyes to those we've lost. So today is our chance to say goodbye to these 43 individuals that we've worked and lived with in years past. Today is that official goodbye," says Rock River Homeless Coalition chair Todd Kisner.

According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, people who are homeless are three-to-four times more likely to die prematurely.