Community Gathers to Pay Tribute at CHUM Candlelight Vigil

By KBJR News 1

December 26, 2012 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 12:40 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)-- One Duluth shelter is reporting the highest number of homeless people in its 30 year history.

Those representing Churches United in Ministry say the reason for this disturbing trend comes from a number of sources, and bringing awareness to it now is crucial.

That's why they and community members gathered Christmas Eve at City Hall.

For the past three years, Meghan Edwards has expanded on traditional Christmas tradition to pay her respects to those community members a little less privileged.

"I'm very fortunate to have a nice, warm place to stay for Christmas and not everybody is as fortunate," said Edwards. "It breaks my heart. I wish that I could do more for the community. I wish the numbers of people that have lost their lives hadn't gone up."

At CHUM's annual candle light vigil honoring those homeless that lost their lives in 2012, the largest number of people were remembered since the vigil began close to ten years ago.

"We sheltered over 900 people, 934 people to be exact, 70 plus families which is a record for us," Elizabeth Olson with CHUM.

Each candle lit in the brisk December air sparks awareness to those that lost the uphill battle of being homeless, and those still fighting everyday.

"These are our neighbors, these are people we should care about."

Representatives of CHUM hope this alarming trend hit its peak in 2012 and fewer candles are lit in 2013.

"We need to change we don't need to see these number continue to rise and to have to remember more and more names every year."

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, between 2009 and 2011, homelessness deceased by one percent nationally.