CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A memorial service was held at Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry in Chicopee this evening to honor the homeless in western Mass who died this year.

This is the sixth year the memorial service has been held.

In the last few years, there was one person to remember, but this year, the community honored three people who died on the streets of Chicopee.

"Acknowledge, that it is, instead of, 'It’s not happening in my neighborhood'," organizer Brother Michael Duffy tells us.

People in Chicopee gathered on Wednesday, some coming with food and clothing donations, to remember homeless people in Chicopee who have died in 2019.

"It’s a hard thing to see them pass away and it’s great we can remember them here, but sometimes they’re all too forgotten," Volunteer Coordinator William Puckett stated.

Every year, the memorial service takes place on or near the observation of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day, the first day of Winter and longest night of the year, which, this year, is December 21.

Volunteers at Lorraine’s are all too familiar with the problem of homelessness.

The soup kitchen and pantry has been open for more than thirty years and now serve about eighty meals a night and around 500 families a month through the pantry.

"We want people to be aware that there are people hurting in Chicopee that need help and we are here to help those who need it. They are the people that live in abandoned houses, places not reached by roads, different encampments on the river, where homeless live and camp out, and vulnerable people in Chicopee, where they might not be homeless, but are couch surfing or living off other people," continued Puckett.

The Elms College School of Nursing students giving back to the community by helping to prepare and serve the evening dinner that followed the memorial service.

Elms College President Harry Dumay tells Western Mass News that, with the holidays quickly approaching, it was important for his students to volunteer their time.

"This is a reminder, as we approach Christmas and a time we are all going to be rejoicing with family, that there are so many who need so much. Many of us are blessed with so much, so lending a helping hand to others that are less fortunate is something that will come back to benefit all of us. It is in giving that we receive," said Dumay.

Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry will be serving a holiday meal on Christmas Day from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

They will also be giving out toys and gifts for those in need.

To learn how you can donate to Lorraine’s, you can click or tap here for more information.

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