DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Durham Rescue Mission added a Saturday event following decreased turnout Friday at their annual Easter Community Dinner and Basket Giveaway due to severe weather.
Volunteers at Saturday's drive-thru event sent families home with Easter baskets.
Friday, organizers and volunteers hurriedly carried in tables and chairs as strong rain and winds hit the Triangle.
"The weather's putting a lot of twists and turns in what we're doing out here. We were just outside and had volunteers setting up and lightning hit, and scared everybody to death. So we're pulling everything inside, that's what's happening right now. It's very chaotic. But hey the show's going to go on. So we're not going to give up on what we're doing here," said Rev. Rob Tart, President and CEO of the Durham Rescue Mission.
Tart said 500 volunteers initially signed up, though a sizeable number did not show.
"We were prepared for 1,800 kids. I'm sure we won't get anywhere near that with this number," said Tart.
Despite the challenges, Tart was grateful for those who were able to attend.
"The magic of this event is the connection that people create, especially even the volunteers when they come out. The basis of all joy is finding fellowship and relationship and all that, and so many people today are lonely in this world," said Tart.
Volunteers Lydia Amekuedi and Rhonda Spivey were part of a group volunteering from Mount Zion Church in Cary.
"I've never volunteered with the Easter event. So to see so many people, it's overwhelming, but it a good way," said Spivey.
Spivey had previously volunteered at the Durham Rescue Mission during Christmas celebrations, while this was Amekuedi's first time.
"Even though we may not have experienced something as they have, we've all experienced some type of catastrophe in our lives and some tragedy. So to honor them in a way of service is just what makes my heart glad," Spivey said.
"At our church, we're a huge family. Even those that are there, there may be people who don't have family within their home, or within this state because their family is somewhere else. So this is time for us to come together and help those who may go back to a home where there is no one or where there may be circumstances that are not favorable," added Amekuedi, when discussing the impact of the pandemic on recognizing struggles.
Tart explained they have seen an uptick in requests over the past few years.
"The Durham Rescue Mission has never been fuller than it is now. We consistently have so many people, even our thrift stores, they're just burgeoning with people shopping because there's so much need now. The rents here in the Triangle-area and Durham in particular are so high, and people just can't live. We're doing what we can to reach out to help them," Tart explained.
The Durham Rescue Mission typically has 450 people stay on a nightly basis, and request donations of undergarments and toiletries.