Durham Rescue Mission serves thousands at massive Thanksgiving feast for those in need

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- After an extensive night of cooking, volunteers with the Durham Rescue Mission served more than 1,000 people a warm, delicious Thanksgiving meal.

The turkey-roasting began Wednesday night and lasted all through the night under the tents outside the Durham Rescue Mission. The volunteers are putting in extra time to make sure the Triangle's neediest do not go without a Thanksgiving.

Volunteers scrambled in the kitchens at DRM ahead of the big event. Some have been volunteering for years or are first-timers like Stephanie Douglas.

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"This is my first year doing this," Douglas said as she is baptized into the organized chaos of one Durham's most-well-known charities.

"Oh my gosh, it's humongous!" Douglass said. "But the Rescue Mission seems like they have a system."

Outside the Mission, Chef Clarence Dillard walked volunteers through quality control.

"I'll be on the back end making sure that we have taken all the guts, giblets, thermometers, little plastic bits out of the turkeys before we put them into the grill," Dillard explained.

Since he and his wife Jan started coming about 13 years ago, they've mastered the art of turkey stripping.

"Turkey stripping is the best day of the year," Jan joked.

The Durham Chapter of Jack & Jill brought nearly a dozen volunteers to help. The sixth-straight year they've taken part.

"It is the messiest, most-rewarding thing you can do on Thanksgiving eve," said Chapter President Tina Ndoh.

The group's community outreach organizer Arnica Foulkes added: "It's probably gonna be over 20 of us here this evening. And we just get to help people that are in need and we love to do it."

The Mission serving up a full turkey day spread with heavy helpings of love. All are welcome.

"I love to see families sit at our table and have that moment of bonding. It's like we're bringing the entire community together," Ernie Mills Jr. whose parents founded the non-profit said.

"You don't have to be needy. You can just come fellowship. That's what we're here for," said DRM Director of Development Tony Gooch. "We are a community organization. No one will be turned away. We want you to eat all the turkey you can."

Yet, the mission also knows there are people in need who simply can't get out of the house to come over. So, 400 of these dinners will be going to the Meals on Wheels program to be delivered on Thanksgiving Day.
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