The New Milford Homeless Shelter Coalition will conduct a homeless memorial vigil Friday, Dec. 21, at 6:30 p.m. on the Village Green in New Milford.

The vigil will honor the homeless and former homeless people from New Milford who have died.

The vigil will also serve as a call to end homelessness, not only in New Milford, but across the country.

The Rev. Matt Yukon, of Northville Baptist Church, will lead the vigil.

Homeless memorial vigils are an annual event commemorated in more than 200 cities and counties across the United States on the first day of winter, which is the day with the least amount of light and the longest night of the year.

The New Milford Homeless Shelter Coalition also wants to use this time to call attention to the continued economic hardship for many Americans, according to a press release issued by the coalition.

"Unemployment and poverty are increasing, foreclosures continue at a record rate, and shelters and food pantries cannot meet the increased demand," the release said.

"These memorials remind us that health care and housing are a human right that many of us take for granted."

Last year, the New Milford Shelter Coalition saw a 50 percent increase in the number of people served over the previous winter season.

A coalition spokesperson said this is especially alarming because last

year was a mild winter compared to the harsh winter of 2010-11.

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To make a tax-deductible donation, write to New Milford Homeless Shelter, P.O. Box 1016, New Milford, CT 06776.