One participant got in line "about six in the morning."
"I took two city buses to get here," another participant said.
By mid-morning, the line of children and adults wrapped around the the corner of the building and snaked down the street.
Children were giddy with anticipation as they lined up to receive bright balloons and beautifully wrapped baskets.
"A lot of kids in this community wouldn't get Easter baskets on Sunday, so we wanted to provide them for them," said Julie Braaten, a volunteer.
Volunteers put more than 600 baskets together and spent hours cooking up a hearty, holiday meal.
This is the fourth year that the Durham Rescue Mission has served up its Easter celebration. Each year, it keeps getting bigger.
"It's one of the largest gatherings of the haves and have nots," said the Rev. Ernie Mills, the shelter's director.
More than 100 volunteers were on hand to help feed and distribute baskets to the 980 people who attended the celebration.
"We came out to the mission to eat and get to know people," said a participant.
This day is the mission's gift to the community -- a present that everyone can enjoy.
"To see the smiling faces on kids, it just makes Easter for me," Mills said.
The Durham Rescue Mission is the city's oldest and largest shelter. It also offers community meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas.