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Organizations provide Thanksgiving meals for people in need

Posted November 24
Updated November 25

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— If you thought your Thanksgiving dinner was big, think again.

The Durham Rescue Mission on Thursday served its annual Thanksgiving meal to more than 1,100 people around the city, and the numbers are staggering.

Volunteers on Wednesday night began preparing 75 turkeys and cooking barbecue, donated by Shelby's Crossroads Rescue Mission, to serve at noon in the east Durham neighborhood. The mission said almost 500 volunteers donated their time to prepare and serve the meals.

In addition to a full meal, the mission hosted carnival games with prizes for kids and giving away warm winter clothes and bags of groceries. But, for the first time in the event's history, the mission is also giving away $20 gift cards to be used at Durham Rescue Mission Thrift Stores.

The Durham Rescue Mission, though, isn't alone in bringing a Thanksgiving meal to people around the Triangle.

To the east, the Raleigh Rescue Mission had 100 volunteers deliver 800 meals to people through its Gobbles to Go program.

Spokeswoman Lauri Para said the food comes in courtesy of donors large and small, from businesses to churches and book clubs.

Rescue Mission staff and volunteers have been prepping and cooking all week long, Para said.

"Then today, we've got about 100 volunteers that have come in. They're working in an assembly line process, getting everything in boxes and packaged up and then we have drivers come to bring the meals out and deliver them," she said.

Deonte and Beth Thomas were among more than 50 drivers delivering the food. They said they were looking for a way to help their community.

"Trying to start a new tradition as well. It's our first time doing it, so we're looking forward to it," Deonte Thomas said. "We've been lucky. We both are first time- first lawyers ni the family, first people in our family going to college for me. An so, the same people in a similar situation, we wanted to give back.'

Each driver gets a route with names and addresses. They bring not just Thanksgiving meals, but bags of groceries.

"They're going to elderly folks who have a difficult time getting out. They go to low income families and also to previous residents that lived at the mission for a while and have since moved out and started over with their lives. We just help to kind of sustain them," Para said.

The mission is hoping others who want to give back will donate on Giving Tuesday to help the Rescue Mission do everything again in one month.

'this will happen again Christmas Eve. The whole process; bags, volunteers, all of it," Para said.

Diner owner gives back each Thanksgiving

Following a prayer with her group of 150 volunteers, Angie Mikus opened the door for dinner with tears in her eyes.

"I just live in a great community and I'm so humbled by the response that we get everybody wanting to give back," Mikus said.

Mikus and her volunteers expected to feed more than 1,000 people Thursday afternoon, many of them homeless like Christopher Duke. Duke first heard about Mikus' Thanksgiving dinners two years ago, when he was living in a homeless camp off Highway 70.

"It's good because I know most of the people here," he said. "You know, it's like the rich people know the rich people, the homeless know the homeless."

Mikus can relate to Duke's experience.

"I was that girl that didn't have. When I gave birth to my son, Jacob, 18 years ago, I didn't have a place to stay. I was being evicted, lights were being cut off," she said.

Mikus has been sharing her good fortune for five years. This year, she served 42 turkeys and 36 hams along with greens, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and a side of smiles.

Lynn Godwin was helping to move people through the small diner. She's volunteered every year since the Thanksgiving dinners began.

"Most of my family- I don't have a lot of family left and they usually go somewhere else, so this is my family today. I love it," Godwin said.

Mikus said the annual event is more than just a meal.

"Money can't buy companionship and love and everything that I think a lot of people are missing out on these days. So, the fellowship that we have here, I think they just want to be here and around people on the holidays," she said.

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