Volunteers at Durham Rescue Mission serve 1,322 people
Hundreds of volunteers gathered downtown Thursday morning to give back during a community dinner at the Durham Rescue Mission to provide more than 1,000 meals to the city’s neediest residents.
Preparations began Wednesday, when nearly a dozen large cookers ran through the night to roast around 125 turkeys.
For more than 40 years, the event at the mission’s men’s campus on Main Street has provided hot meals and supplies to homeless men, women and children. This Thanksgiving, volunteers handed out 1,322 plates of Thanksgiving staples, along with warm clothes, bags of groceries and gift cards to Durham Rescue Mission thrift stores.
“From volunteers who cooked, set up, served and those who delivered Meals on Wheels, it is a team effort and I am very thankful for all the ‘helping hands,‘” Durham Rescue Mission CEO Ernie Mills said in a press release. “This event has brought together the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have not’s’ for a great meal and time of fellowship. Times are tough, but we all still have much to be thankful for.”
Chuck McLean, who helps organize the project, has volunteered with the mission for nearly 20 years.
“I brought a grill down one morning about 19, 20 years ago, wound up staying all day,” he said. “This is part of my Thanksgiving now. I have been doing it so long.”
Through the years, what sticks with him most are the people served each Thanksgiving who later return as volunteers to help others.
“He was saying all he wanted to do was get through the program and be reunited with his family,” McLean said. “He came back about six years later with his two sons and his wife.”
This year, 542 volunteers worked the event.