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Durham Rescue Mission distributes more than 5,400 toys

Posted December 24, 2013

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— Shacondra Burnett didn’t think she would find herself back at the Durham Rescue Mission this Christmas Eve.

A working single parent, the Durham mother’s household budget has no room for Christmas gifts for her four children with ages ranging from seven months to 17. She was among thousands who came to the mission Tuesday for their 38th annual Christmas event and left with blue and yellow bags filled with toys for her two youngest children.

Burnett last attended the event two years ago. Hard times led her back to the mission on Tuesday.

“I was able to get a couple of things that are wrapped up so he’ll get to unwrap that and know that this came from here,” she said, referring to her eight-year-old son. “It was a blessing for him to be able to get that.”

More than 5,400 toys were expected to be distributed Tuesday along with over 3,700 articles of clothing and 1,500 bags of groceries. At one point the mission was 1,000 toys short of its estimated need but community members not only filled that need but were dropping off toys even as the event went on.

“We have so many people that care and want to make a difference,” said Ernie Mills, Durham Rescue Mission founder. “This right here is showing that the community comes together. It’s one of the largest gatherings of the have and have nots in the Triangle that I know of.”

In addition to distributing toys, clothing and groceries, over 500 volunteers also served an early Christmas dinner to attendees. Among them was Alison Herndon, who has volunteered at the event for the past six years.

“My kids have been doing it since they were little, handing out toys,” she said. “My husband cooks overnight. He and his buddies come downtown and cook overnight and then I wake up and bring the kids down and they get to serve all day. They really enjoy giving.”
 

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