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Rescue Mission Tries to Salvage Food After Fire

Posted April 9, 2007

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— Volunteers sorted through thousands of canned goods Monday, trying to determine what food could be salvaged after an early morning fire destroyed the Durham Rescue Mission's pantry.

A fire broke out shortly after midnight at a building used by the mission to store food, ruining about half of the donated food inside.

No one was injured, but the building, which stored dry foods, sustained extensive damage, said Ernie Mills, Durham Rescue Mission co-founder and executive director.

"We probably lost about a three-month supply, and that's three months to feed about 180 people -- men, women and children -- three meals a day," Mills said. "The structure was damaged too much to keep. It was an old, old building anyway, so it wouldn't be financially feasible to repair."

Mission officials suspect that embers from a wood-burning stove they use both to heat the building and to warm local homeless people landed on the building's roof and started the fire shortly after midnight, he said.

The fire rekindled at about 6:15 a.m. but was quickly doused by firefighters. Some volunteers said the second fire might have damaged more of the canned goods than the first one.

"What's damaged, we'll have to throw awy. A lot has been damaged," volunteer Roger Davis said.

Mills asked for Triangle churches and civic groups to rally in support of the mission to help restock the pantry through a number of food drives. One man who heard about the fire donated a truckload of food Monday morning, he said.

All types of food can be used: canned meats, all types of canned vegetables, fruits, soups and staple items such as sugar, flour and cornmeal.

Food donations can be dropped off at 1201 E Main St. in Durham.

The Mission is also accepting monetary donations to help with the replacement of the food. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 11858, Durham, N.C. 27703 or made online at www.DurhamRescueMission.org.

Mills said no decision has been made on how the mission will store donated food. Portable storage units likely would be used in the short term, he said, and the organization would seek volunteers to help build a more permanent storage area.


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  • Screen name Apr 9, 2007

    I just gave all my spare money to the Briar Creek people who lost their house to a fire (my prayer go out to the house). A $300,000 house is not easy to replace you know. I think they need it more, food is cheap.

  • Censor victim Apr 9, 2007

    Br549, your 315 post is hilarious.

  • thinking Apr 9, 2007

    I think it can be very easy to judge if we think people are lazy, or drugged up, or whatever. But Ernie Mills started this mission so long ago b/c his father was an alcoholic and he felt there was no one to help him overcome his addiction. Now he has stepped out in faith to do what he feels led by God to do. If you don't agree with him, don't donate. But don't be judgemental of those who do. The world would be a much better place if we thought of each other more than we thought of ourselves.

  • BR549-ssdd Apr 9, 2007

    This is terrible.. someone might have to ge a job now!!

  • Trixie Apr 9, 2007

    Just remember - "There but for the grace of God go I". Anyone of us can end up like this. I know a business man who moved his family here, bought a house, and was just starting a very good job when the company closed down. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he'd need help feeding his family, but he did. Be careful who you judge - it may be you someday.

  • homeimprovement Apr 9, 2007

    "I've seen a lot of these men and most are young and need to get a job."

    It is much more than just getting a job.

  • mslisac363 Apr 9, 2007

    I've seen a lot of these men and most are young and need to get a job. Me being a single mom and seeing these young men eat three meals a day a free place to stay makes me not want to give. Let these people take the jobs that the Mexicans find.

  • BlarneyStone Apr 9, 2007

    I wonder how many of those who "use" the mission will actually help out by cleaning up and working there or if they will leave that for volunteers too... hmmmmmm.

  • homeimprovement Apr 9, 2007

    " But men should be working, not taking handouts. It doesn't help them or their future to do so."

    Apparently you are ignorant of the Durham Rescue Mission. ALL residents have a job, in fact, the place is run mostly by residents and a few staff members oversee the operation. Whether it is yard work, cooking, mechanical, cleaning, electrical, construction...NOBODY sits on their hands all day. In addition, they are expected to attend daily devotion at 6:45 AM, attend church three times a week and fill out accountability sheets. Also, they have to memorize scripture.

    On top of that, they have training programs such as Victory which teaches character from Biblical principles.

    Shattered lives are not easy to put back together, only by the grace of God we are not in that situation.

  • BR549-ssdd Apr 9, 2007

    "give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day." "Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day."