For 20th consecutive year, Durham Rescue Mission gives away 3,600 backpacks filled with school supplies

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DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Food, clothes, fun and backpacks...and it's all free.

"Every year it gets better," parent Dovie Joyner said.

Since Joyner moved to Durham seven years ago, the Durham Rescue Mission's back to school pep rally and backpack giveaway has been something her family looks forward to every year.

"It's hard when you have a whole large group of family in your house. Buying a book bag for one child is different than buying a book bag for four," Joyner said.

This is the Durham Rescue Mission's 20th year hosting the event and every year the event grows. This year the mission gave away 3,600 backpacks filled with school supplies and served 5,000 hot dogs and 850 pounds of barbecue.

"We're just hoping that this will help the kids get back in school on the right foot and complete high school and go off to college," said Ernie Mills, Durham Rescue Mission CEO.

The students left with full bellies and backpacks, ready to kick off the new school year the right way.

"If the Rescue Mission wasn't here I don't know what people would do without the rescue mission. So I'm thankful for everything," 5th grader Jahiem France said.

Because they were able to give away so many backpacks, about 10 percent of the students going to Durham Public Schools this year will have a backpack from the Durham Rescue Mission.
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