KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – People who provide services to the homeless in the Kanawha Valley came together to remember those experiencing homelessness who have passed in 2022.

Every year on December 21, people across the nation recognize Homeless Persons Memorial Day. This is the eighth year in a row the day has been recognized in Charleston.

Officials gathered to read the names of the 50 people across the Kanawha Valley who died while experiencing homelessness or people who were formerly homeless, but still used homeless service programs at the time they passed.

Officials say that number is far higher than in previous years, and organizers say the event helps providers and peers take a pause to grieve.

“You know the loss of anyone is obviously disheartening, but each of us have clients that we’ve known for a short time or long time that you just relate to differently, and the loss of those individuals is huge,” said Traci Strickland, Executive Director of the Kanawha Valley Collective.

The event is recognized on December 21 because it is the longest night of the year.