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Durham nonprofit helps kids prep for school with backpack giveaway

Posted August 15, 2013

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— Dozens of underprivileged children and their parents lined up before dawn Thursday for the Durham Rescue Mission's 14th annual back-to-school party and backpack giveaway. 

The nonprofit plans to provide as many as 4,000 backpacks filled with school supplies by lunchtime.

Ernie Mills, co-founder of the Durham Rescue Mission, said the family-friendly event is designed to be a party. 

"There is a great need (in this community)," Mills said. "People that we work with today are people who have had their hours at work cut back, and a mother can't pay the rent and buy the backpacks and all of that on minimum wage."

Volunteers from GlaxoSmithKline and other local organizations arrived at 7 a.m. to begin preparing backpacks for distribution, and Durham Mayor Bill Bell spoke to the crowd at 9:15 a.m. to encourage children to stay in school. 

Backpacks were distributed at about 9:45 a.m., and organizers prepared about 10,000 hot dogs shortly after 10 a.m. 

Thursday's party also included a used clothing and grocery giveaway.

“Our goal, as always, is to provide children with the tools they need to get excited about going back to school, all of which is possible because of our generous sponsors and tireless volunteers," Mills said.


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  • superman Aug 16, 2013

    I wonder if they were asked to turn their cell phones off while they waited in line? Wonder how many arrived in new cars? Anyone check the gold jewelry they were wearing? Sometimes people spend their money on what is important for them without any regard as to what they need. Bet they can afford cable tv.

  • superman Aug 16, 2013

    The problem here is that these people will always be "needy" no matter what you do. Helping once or twice is a waste. They have supplies for this year but that aint going to help them in the years ahead. Give them free food this month and they will starve next month. You cannot help people who dont, wont or cant help themselves. We probably get a letter or a phone call for an organization or group that wants money every day. It has become a real nusiance. Once you give or make a donation they sell your name or phone number to other groups and it becomes a chain of request from all across America.

  • selawler0813 Aug 15, 2013

    I would rather see a few greedy people make their way through the line than a child who was truly in need go without supplies for school. No parent wants to see their child suffer the ridicule from students based on the poor decisions of their parents or the hard times they are presently facing. That stigma will not last for one school year, often it will follow them for years to come. Why would you wish that on a child?

  • yankee1 Aug 15, 2013

    "Truly needy"?.....GravyPig

    A little senstive are we? If you read slowly, you'll understand that the comments only used this latest event as a backdrop for the endless references to the "needy" or the "underprivileged" which never seem to get a real definition. For example if you drive a Toyota but your neighbor drives a Cadillac, and you want one, then there are all kinds of social engineering oriented groups that would define you as underprivileged. It's time we defined these catch all descriptions because they are the same excuses used to hand out endless amounts of taxpayer money. In Obamacare for example, subsidies reach all the to folks at 400% of poverty level. That's neither "underprvileged" or "needy". That's simply vote buying with taxpayer money.

  • GravyPig Aug 15, 2013

    "No problem helping the "truly" needy. It's the chronic takers, the freeloaders and the pretenders that are the targets of the criticism. How hard is that to understand?"

    "Truly needy"?

    You don't know any of these folks and yet you assume the worst of them. You started out your comments questioning the validity of everyones actual financial status without knowing the truth.

    Truth is, some folks are there to snap up free stuff. These folks have existed since the dawn of time and will be here until the end of the earth. You lump anyone who might need assistance into the "freeloader", "pretenders" and "chronic takers" column but you don't know their true status.

    You have already judged them without having any facts. I ask you the same question. How hard is that to understand?

    Again, Thanks DHHM. I'm sure you have brightened the day for many people.

  • Obamacare saves lives Aug 15, 2013

    Instead of thinking the economically challenged are 'gaming the system' have any of you ever considered that perhaps these people just aren't very good at life?

  • GravyPig Aug 15, 2013

    "wow - how sad all of the negative commentary."

    Indeed. A non profit is trying to good for those less fortunate and all anyone can come up with is negativity and second guessing their financial standing and planning skills.

    I say thanks the Durham Rescue Mission and those volunteers who came to help.

  • yankee1 Aug 15, 2013

    But do you honestly believe it is the majority of the needy out there that are "gaming" the system?...TJPC

    The real problem is the lack of willingness to define "needy". Needy should be based on "can't" not on "won't" or "doesn't want to". And while there is truth in the statement that "kids can't control their situation", who really thinks that if mommy or daddy carry you to every social service office and every free handout event from the time you're born, it doesn't become an acceptable way of life?

  • hsiflee Aug 15, 2013

    I want one...

  • Holy Carp. Aug 15, 2013

    "there are some cold and heartless people on here. Complaining about a nonprofit helping the needy. Costing you nothing. I hope none of you never hit bottom because of unemployment, illness etc. Get off you high horse and have some compassion for those who need help."

    Agree! This is what's wrong with our society. Everyone has to find the negative in everything rather than focusing on a group or someone doing something positive. These kids can't control their situation. If people are willing to help them out, let that be a positive. Instead, People want to spin it around to the negative. This is a charity that collects donations. We should be glad that these charities exist. They sure make the world a lot better than it would be without them and hopefull create a lot less negative people in the population.