Durham Rescue Mission: 'Everyone has a Christmas'

Posted December 23, 2011
Updated December 24, 2011

— Tony Gooch has a single goal for the Durham Rescue Mission's annual Christmas dinner and giveaway: "No one leaves without anything, and everyone has a Christmas."

To fulfill that mission Friday, it took 552 volunteers to feed 2,858 people and give away 12,000 toys, 9,843 pieces of clothing and 12,000 bags of groceries. 2016 Coats for the Children Donate to Coats for the Children

"I think the need is greater because the economy is low now," volunteer Terryca Taylor said.

"I've been doing rescue work for 42 years now, and I've never seen it this bad for this long, affecting so many people," rescue mission co-founder Ernie Mills said.

Families with children started lining up outside the rescue mission at 3:30 a.m. Friday, more than eight hours before the event began.

"They get here this early, because they're afraid they might not have a toy," said Gooch, the rescue mission's director of development operations.

Making sure children have gifts at Christmastime is close to his heart, Gooch said, after watching his single mother struggle to provide even one gift for her children some years.

"Being a father, it's always a joy to see a child smile. And that's what we want to hear. We don't want these children to not go without Christmas," he said.

The goal is to give each child three or four gifts. The children play games to win the toys, so it also gives them a feeling of accomplishment, Mills said.

"If this wasn't here, there'd be a whole lot of little boys and girls depressed on Christmas Day, because they don't have anything to open up," said recepient Ladarius Cash. Thousands celebrate generosity at Durham Rescue Mission Thousands celebrate generosity at Durham Rescue Mission

A few weeks ago, the rescue mission had only 15 toys, but after a WRAL News story on the situation, dozens of local companies rallied, raising tens of thousands of dollars and donating hundreds of toys.

Taylor asked children in her Sunday school class to donate their old toys.

"This is my first time seeing this actually, but it won't be my last, because I know there's a need. I know where we can give," she said.

Mother Raven Williams said she's grateful for the sacrifices of all the volunteers and donors.

"Lots of people didn't get anything for Christmas this year, so I would tell them I'm very thankful for them and to keep helping," Williams said.

In addition to giving toys to children and groceries and clothing to adults, the heart of the rescue mission's event remains Christmas dinner. Volunteers began roasting turkeys Thursday evening and kept on cooking overnight.

"We're going to have a wonderful Christmas dinner with all the fixings, turkey, ham, beans, corn and stuffing," Gooch said.

The Durham Rescue Mission's Christmas dinner and giveaway began at noon and continued until supplies run out.

"They're going to come out, fill their bellies and walk away with a smile on their face and groceries and clothing," Gooch said.


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  • superman Dec 26, 2011

    I grew up on a farm and had 5 brothers and sisters. We often had very little for Christmas except plenty of love and affection from our parents. We all made it just fine and we all grew up to be successful and hard working. Today my house is paid for, 3 cars paid for and absolutely no credit card debt. My upbringing taught me the value of a dollar and honest hard work. Too bad the parents havent learned that and passed it on to their children. They prefer to stand in line for a handout rather than work. And I need to mention those women who are not marrried and have children with no way to support them. Somemtimes the hardship that people have is self imposed. I worked my way thru college and then grad school. The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own elbow. You only help people by allowing them to work and earn what they get. I passed a guy standing on the corner begging and he was on his cell phone!

  • AtALost Dec 23, 2011

    "KIDS STILL DESERVE A CHRISTMAS NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" - doloresbrown75"

    Kids deserve love, food and shelter. Christmas is about love. Gifts are optional. Parents unable to afford gifts should explain to their kids why they aren't getting gifts. Instead many parents acquire more debt because of peer pressure. Now that credit is harder to get, people need to face the reality they ignored for years. If you don't have it, enjoy a meal together, bake some cookies, count your blessings and love your family. The rest is not necessary.

  • storchheim Dec 23, 2011

    "you assueme they dont want any (jobs) what does that matter.........KIDS STILL DESERVE A CHRISTMAS NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" - doloresbrown75

    Screaming doesn't make it true. And it matters plenty if the parents don't want jobs. It's referred to as "the entitlement mentality": "Give to me, just because I want it."

    Back to your screaming about KIDS. Yours is a knee-jump reaction. How do you know the kids "deserved" gifts, which is what you really mean? Because their parents told them they would receive gifts? I don't understand what you base your statement on.

    Regardless, deserving something and affording it are different things. I deserve a nice home; I can't afford it. The best thing these parent(s) could do for their kids, instead of standing in line for handouts, is teach them that they have to earn money in order to afford things instead of propagating the entitlement mentality.

    Oh, and Christmas isn't denied to anyone. Gifts sometimes are.

  • RWS Dec 23, 2011

    "I sure hope they help the right people."

    Yeah, that's a Tea Party comment. Trust noone, it's all about me. MINE MINE MINE

  • wildcat Dec 23, 2011

    I sure hope they help the right people.

  • Uhavenoclu Dec 23, 2011

    It is my wish that NO ONE would EVER have to "stand in that line" PERIOD....!!! It is also my wish that those that truely do need help are not displaced by a system full of freeloaders and theives...for they ARE truly stealing from the poor and are the lowest of the low...!!!!

    The true freeloaders are the ones standing on the corners in the medians with the signs.People hand them $5,10 $20 because of their appearance but most don't see them all the time.
    They are a group working in shifts and some make over $50,000-even $100,000 a year.

  • carydaddy Dec 23, 2011

    Merry Christmas to one and all! I'm glad that the Durham Rescue Mission continues to do the Lord's work. Remember, we're celebrating Christ-mas -- the season where God gave of Himself to dwell with man.

  • n2justice Dec 23, 2011

    Thank you to the Durham Rescue Mission for providing for these people. The DRM is doing an honorable thing. Those there to receive may or may not be in need but please do not judge people by appearance alone. I'm sure that when most people see me they wouldn't realize that I and my children are one missed paycheck away from needing the aid of the DRM. Merry Christmas and God bless.

  • Uhavenoclu Dec 23, 2011

    Not everyone sorry,there will still be some without a christmas,or dinner,some will be in the woods or in their cars but no one will think about them i;m sure?.
    Some homes are without Christmas while these others go to walmart and expensive shops buying expensive gifts ...
    Sorry but I don't recall Jesus telling everyone to go to walmart or spend thousands of dollars on useless materialistic things to celebrate his birthday which was not dec 25th.
    Jesus like God and Adam and eve and the good ole serpent are parts of your soul.
    Think inside instead of outside if you want to feel god.

  • marshalovesavengedsevenfold Dec 23, 2011

    That was so sweet of them helping the families and children in needs for Christmas.