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Thousands line up for mission's toy giveaway

Posted December 23, 2008
Updated March 9, 2009

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— The sluggish economy sent more than 2,800 people to the Durham Rescue Mission on Tuesday to ensure their children got a toy for Christmas.

The mission gave more than 7,000 toys, 10,000 pieces of clothing and 850 bags of groceries to people on a first-come, first-served basis. The annual event included a holiday lunch of turkey, ham and trimmings.

Ernie Mills, executive director of the mission, said people started lining up for the giveaway at 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, compared with 6 a.m. in previous years.

"The economy is so bad that that mother showed up at 4:45 just to make sure that her kids would have a toy," Mills said, noting that the turnout Tuesday was 17 percent more than a year ago.

Durham Rescue Mission Durham Rescue Mission provides holiday cheer to many

Tiffany Harris was among those to line up early, and she said she didn't know what she would do for Christmas without the mission's help.

"I wanted to make sure the kids had something for Christmas," Harris said. "It's a blessing to be here. I thank God every day for waking me up and taking care of me and my family."

Ruth Ortega brought her neighbors to get help but found herself in the toy line for her daughter, Rosa. She said her family can still afford gifts, but is cutting back in the tight economy.

"With how tight things are right now with the community, (this is) definitely a blessing," Ortega said.

Nakeia Thompson, a single mother of three living on disability checks, said she won't be able to buy any Christmas gifts this year, so the mission's event will make her children's holiday bright.

"It would be hard because you have to explain to (the children) that they can't have certain things that they want. It makes the adults feel bad because they want to give their children things, and they can't do it," Thompson said.

Mills said the toy giveaway is his favorite part of the mission's holiday events. After Tuesday, other events are targeted at the homeless people who live at the mission, at 1201 E. Main St.

"I know the pain of not being able to get toys for Christmas, and I just enjoy seeing the other kids smile," he said. "That makes my Christmas for me."


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  • mstan Dec 23, 2008

    Look, I know that there are people that work the system.. Err on the side of grace, that is what I say.

  • pcctl Dec 23, 2008

    I wonder how many of those people desperate to have a toy for their kid(s) has a cell phone and cable TV they pay for every month...

  • raldude Dec 23, 2008

    ThatGuyAgain you should be ashmaed of the comment you made. I urge you to get proof of your remarks. I was at the mission a couple days ago making a donation. I idn't notice anything close to what you are saying. I know how fortunante I am and will continue to donate the the mission throughout the year. God bless you my friend and I hope you prosper this coming year.

  • Hasbeen Dec 23, 2008

    oh and here is their link. Check for yourself if you think their causes are misguided and for the wrong people. Shame


  • Hasbeen Dec 23, 2008

    ...and the cynics return. How about instead of speculating, you actually do go out there and see for yourself. Oh, that would probably take actual effort to back up your wrong allegations. Why don't you just count your own blessings.

  • ThatGuyAgain Dec 23, 2008

    I'd love to have been there counting the number of cell phones and leased luxury cars in the parking lot. Wanna bet many or most of those "poor" parents can somehow afford cable TV? Wouldn't make as good a story, though.

  • Hasbeen Dec 23, 2008

    ashleyisthe1 - You sound as though your are. I am far far from perfect, but, when people take the time to take a shot at folks under these circumstances, it is just wrong. Until people walk a mile or spend a month in circumstances such as that of being in true need, they should check themselves.

  • ashleyisthe1 Dec 23, 2008

    has anyone ever thought that these could also be single parents that cant buy christmas and have a hard enough time supporting thier children during the year paying rent, utilities and food. I am for one thankful that I have a great family to help me out or I would be in that line getting help. Thankfully I do get some child support but their are moms and dads that dont get any child support at all and still have to take care of their children alone, thats what the mission is for, to help people that are in need, no matter what their situation is.

  • Hasbeen Dec 23, 2008

    I was too outraged to contain my typing and believe my note was censored, so, here is the kinder gentler version.

    People, please open your hearts just a crack to the children. They do not chose their parents. This one toy may be ALL they get. I am confident my fellow posters do not know what getting nothing for christmas must be like when these children see christmas all around them since Halloween practically. Regardless of the parents choices and circumstances, the children deserve something.

  • 2alegal Dec 23, 2008

    Well folks, we have a new president coming in and HIS forum was CHANGE.....I personally can't wait to see CHANGE....

    Second thought, I helped my homeless fellow man. He is now clean and sober for 30 days. I pray he will continue his long journey into sobriety.....Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!!