DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The countdown to Christmas is on, and here in the Triangle few things are synonymous with the holiday as the Durham Rescue Mission's annual efforts to help families in need.
The Mission's 46th annual Toy Giveaway and Community Dinner takes place Friday from 11 am to 2 pm, and hundreds of volunteers were hard at work Thursday evening cooking 100 turkeys, 750 pounds of ham and all the sides for hot holiday plates. Volunteers also bagged up thousands of toys to be given away to kids ages 0-13, with three toys going to every child.
"That's the best Christmas gift I get, is watching the children," said David Cash, Stewardship Coordinator for the Mission.
Organizers said in total, they expect to feed about 3,000 people, and every family in attendance will also get a free bag of groceries so they can prepare another holiday meal at home.
"Folks from all over the Triangle and beyond, down to the Sandhills area all the way up in Virginia. Folks have responded all over to try to make this a special Christmas," said Cash.
Volunteer Coordinator Lenny Sutherland said seeing the looks on children's faces makes the annual event that much more special.
"They're getting more than toys. They're getting hope. And for a lot of the underprivileged children, that means so much," said Sutherland.
Sisters Sarz and Anna Savage were two of the 600 volunteers who showed up Thursday evening to help, and were both blown away by the attendance.
"I had no idea that there would be this many people. It's like a great kind of chaos, like running out of bags 10 times in 2 minutes. It's crazy," Sarz said.
They said it's an opportunity to bring out the best in people who call the Triangle home.
"Seeing like people giving up their time when they could be spending time doing other stuff, like watching movies at home," Anna said. "It's just nice, so close to the holidays."