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At Durham Rescue Mission, it's about the caring – and the turkey

Posted November 27, 2008

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— Hundreds of volunteers on Thursday served a Thanksgiving turkey dinner that had begun the night before outside the Durham Rescue Mission.

Four hundred and ten volunteers labored for 14 hours over a recipe to roast 75 turkeys over open flames, sprinkled with love and combined with the traditional trimmings – 80 gallons of green beans and 40 gallons of corn.

The turkeys became the main course for more than 1,200 Thanksgiving meals, but volunteers also handed out more 700 bags of groceries and 5,000 articles of clothing.

Caroline Sturdivant and her two daughters came to eat. Life hasn't been so easy for them recently.

"I need a job. I need a place to stay," Sturdivant said, but she came to the Rescue Mission looking for nourishment that doesn't just come from food.

"It's a blessing. It's a blessing to be out in Durham – to see people that is in the same predicament that you are in and to come to where we can get a decent meal and be happy on this blessed day."

The 30-year tradition begins the night before, when the turkeys are put on the flame for their seven-hour roasting. At noon, with the birds fully cooked and the trimmings ready for tasting, volunteers start to dish out dinner to hundreds of people who might otherwise not have a true Thanksgiving meal.

Mignon Brown is in a different financial situation.

"God has blessed me with plenty of food to eat, so I'm blessed," she said. She came to the mission for a different reason: a little company on Thanksgiving Day.

For Rosalind Barrett, Thanksgiving at the Durham Rescue Mission is a tradition. "We come every year – food, clothes, so the kids can play games and stuff, get toys," Barrett said.

She's learned to spread the benefits beyond Thanksgiving, too, picking up clothing for her neighbor's children as well. She plans to come back at Christmas, she said.

"It means a lot just to come out and have fun," Barrett said.

And while turkey is the main draw at dinner time, all the people giving their time to make the tradition happen is the thing for which to be most thankful.

"It's a day for giving, and, you know, I might not have nothing to give fiscally, but I can give by meeting new people, sharing my experiences with them, sharing their experiences with me," Sturdivant said.

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  • OSX Nov 28, 2008

    The Durham Rescue Mission is one of the finest organizations out there. Some of the kindest people you could ever hope to meet. Rev Ernie is a miracle in a city that has so much working against it.

  • nealsgirl Nov 28, 2008

    The Durham Rescue Mission is a top notched group of people. They are living proof that people still do LOVE their fellow man. Keep up the good work Rev Ernie and his wonderful helpers!:)

  • Jay4 Nov 27, 2008

    Great and wonderful work by the Durham Rescue Mission - and the Raleigh Rescue Mission - God bless all those serving, giving, helping - and the people who are being served.

  • raldude Nov 27, 2008

    The Durham Rescue Mission is amazing. It has helped so many people in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Please help them by donating as often as possible.

  • seeingthru Nov 27, 2008

    volunteers are the best!! I volunteered to deliver dinners to folks in Raleigh who were unable to get there--but they had more than enough people willing to do that!! as for people who only go for free stuff they don't really need--thats kinda sad...

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Nov 27, 2008

    I think it's great that in a world of self-centered, selfish people, that there are caring organizations and individuals willing to help others. Keep up the good work, Durham Rescue Mission!