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Tuesday night, an East Tennessee community honored about two dozen lives lost this year.

At a special memorial service, ministry volunteers and loved ones remembered the lives of nearly two dozen homeless men and women who died in 2013. Volunteer Ministry Center and St. John's Lutheran Church host the annual service.

"This gives a sense of, not just closure, but also a sense of continuance," said Jeff Perkins, VMC's chaplain. "Many of the times our neighbors that pass away during the year feel forgotten. They feel unattached from the community. So this is an opportunity for the community to be a part of their life."

The ceremony started with a candlelit walk from VMC to the church. During the service, organizers named each person who died in 2013, followed by a bell toll.

John Cantrell was there in honor of his friend Jack, who passed away last week.

"He never gave up," Cantrell said. "Lot of times when you're homeless, [you] cop an attitude, nobody cares. He didn't have that.

Julie Adkins also said some goodbyes.

"I felt like it was a good opportunity to remember some of the people that I have known that have passed away this year that I'm aware of."

Founder of Lost Sheep Ministry, Maxine Raines, spoke about her friend who died this year -- nick-named "Scrappy" after he made a reputation of stripping and burning copper.

"He would give his testimony down and under the bridge," Raines remembered. "And he tried to make a difference with the others and encourage them to get off the street and different things."

While many homeless deaths go unreported, a few this year made headlines.

In January, police found the body of Kevin Scrimager in a culvert in Knoxville. Then in April, KPD found three people dead in a homeless camp. They were later identified as Collin Colbert, Ryan Gorney, and Grace Standridge.

Despite those deaths, Perkins wants to remind people -- most homeless are simply trying to find their way off the streets.

"There's a stigma that's attached to our neighbors struggling with homelessness," he explained. "It's important to understand that not all homeless people are scary, not all homeless people are dangerous, not all homeless people are a threat."

This is the fifth year organizers have held the memorial service.

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