Local News

Durham Rescue Mission needs donations of ham, turkeys and toys

A very special Thanksgiving tradition is underway in Durham for a 47th year.

Posted Updated

Kasey Cunningham
, WRAL reporter
DURHAM, N.C. — A very special Thanksgiving tradition is underway in Durham for a 47th year.

Each year, hundreds of people are fed on Thanksgiving Day in the parking lot of the Durham Rescue Mission’s Center for Hope.

Volunteers were working in 32-degree weather in heated tents on Thursday at 4 a.m. to begin preparing meals for an estimated 1,500 people.

Organizer and vice president Ernie Mills, Jr. said the Durham Rescue Mission received fewer donations this year and has "just enough" turkeys to feed everyone at noon.

“We currently have enough for Thanksgiving, but it’s nothing like we’ve had in years past," Mills said. "What we’re really short on now is ham for the Christmas dinner and toys for Christmas. And obviously turkeys, we’re at that stage where absolutely we could use more, but we have the bare minimum covered.”

You can drop off hams, turkeys or toys on Thursday at 1201 East Main St. in Durham. Any leftover turkeys will be used for the Durham Rescue Mission's Christmas dinner.

Mills is expecting a higher demand at their community dinner this year since many places that used to hold Thanksgiving events have canceled them due to COVID-19.

The work to feed hundreds began Wednesday afternoon, when volunteers set up tables and chairs and rubbed turkeys down with seasonings. The turkeys went on outdoor grills at 7 p.m.

Once the turkeys come off the grills at 5 a.m., they will be sliced, and sides will be prepared. The event takes a total of 500 volunteers.

Hundreds will eat together in the parking lot, but another 400 meals will be delivered to senior citizens or people unable to make it to the dinner in person.

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,207 traditional Thanksgiving meals were served, which included turkey and and trimmings. In addition, volunteers delivered 375 Meals on Wheels dinners and 212 meals to elderly shut-ins.

Each family will get a bag of groceries they can use to make another meal at home, and there will be carnival games and a clothing giveaway. Each guest will also receive a $20 gift card to the Durham Rescue Mission thrift store.

Volunteers said 5,533 articles of clothing were given away during this year's event.


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