Local News

Rescue Mission Captures Spirit Of Giving With Christmas Dinner

Posted December 24, 2002 6:10 a.m. EST

— Every day, the Durham Rescue Mission opens its doors to provide food and shelter to thousands of the area's less fortunate.

But at no time does the Mission capture the true spirit of giving like it does on Christmas Eve.

The mission's annual Christmas dinner seemed to hold a greater importance this year than in years past.

"Because of the way the economy is, and the way things are going, everybody's not as fortunate to be able to have Christmas dinner at home," Robert Walker said as he waited in line to be served Tuesday's noon feast. "I think it's a wonderful thing that they're doing for people all around the community."

Reverend Ernie Mills and his 400 volunteers ignored the horrible, rainy weather to soak in the true meaning of Christmas.

"At 6 o'clock this morning, we had two women standing in line with umbrellas in the pouring down rain just to get toys for their kids, and that was six hours early because we didn't start until 12 o'clock," Mills said.

Said volunteer Dora Morgan, as she took a break serving food: "Yes, I could be home. I could be warm, dry. But the meaning and the spirit of Christmas is sharing."

For most of the children picking out toys, this was the only Christmas they will see this year. That is what made Tuesday so special for them and for the volunteers.

"It's so much fun seeing kids who really normally wouldn't have a Christmas at all to be able to get one thing, at least," said volunteer Amber Merritt. "Just to see their joy. Their eyes light up, and their faces get so excited."

"It's about love. It's about caring for your neighbor - not just your neighbor next door, but your neighbor in the whole world sense. That's why we're here at the Durham Rescue," Morgan said.

The Mission only saw about 700 visitors for the Christmas dinner this year, which is down from about 2,000 last year.