Durham Rescue Mission will feed thousands at holiday feast

Posted December 22, 2016
Updated December 23, 2016

— A meal fit for a king was being prepared Thursday night and Friday as volunteers helped the Durham Rescue Mission prepare for its annual holiday feast.

More than 100 turkeys were on more than 10 large grills as volunteers worked through the night to prepare for Friday's holiday feast with all the trimmings.

For many volunteers, the opportunity to help others is a tradition.

"It's very special to us to see the children getting toys, because my father and I never got toys as children," said Ernie Mills, Jr., who started the organization with his family. "So many families here in Durham are struggling to make ends meet -- they are using everything they make to pay bills and there's not enough for Christmas for the children."

Dillard and other volunteers have been putting together the holiday feast for more than 10 years. Some of the volunteers include Durham police officers.

The volunteers hope to feed more than 4,000 families and give away thousands of toys -- four for each kid -- on Friday.

People who come to the dinner will get turkey, ham, baked beans, dressing, collards and other fixings. There are even hot dogs available for the kids.

“For us, it’s a chance to get to spend time, it’s a chance to get to help and it’s a chance to train others to get them to take over for us,” said volunteer Tony Dillard. “We have people who have gotten interested in what we did once. Now, they do this five, six, seven, eight, nine years now.”

The event starts at noon.

The rescue mission will extend the celebration on Christmas Eve, serving breakfast and delivering gifts to their male guests at 8 a.m. and sharing brunch and gifts with women and children beginning at 10 a.m. Gifts for the homeless who seek shelter at the rescue mission are supplied by the community, who chose them from a Christmas Wish Tree located at Northgate mall.


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