Durham County

Rescue Mission serves up 1,764 plates to the needy on Good Friday

Allison Salos-Reyes wears her Easter finest and smiles after getting her Easter basket at the annual Community Easter event at the Durham Rescue Mission.
Allison Salos-Reyes wears her Easter finest and smiles after getting her Easter basket at the annual Community Easter event at the Durham Rescue Mission. The Herald-Sun

Everybody knows that bunnies don't lay eggs but did you know that more than 2,075 people attended the Durham Rescue Mission's annual Community Easter event on Good Friday.

DRM Volunteer and Donation Coordinator Davis Cash surmised that the charity's Easter Event has occurred annually for close to two decades. The event helps feed the hungry, homeless and less advantaged in addition to anyone else who feels like coming, some just seeking company. No one is turned away.

“People just want to help,” Cash said. “Twelve people were cooking pork shoulder through the night.”

A large proportion of the Rescue Mission's approximately 400 residents teamed with a force of 336 volunteers to prepare the feast and marinate, slow roast, grill and cook some 750 pounds of pork, 2,000 hot dogs and homemade chili featured in the 1,764 lunch plates handed out.

“The thing we try to do, we try to serve the underprivileged and poor in the area and are working to make kids have a fun Easter,” Cash said.

Meals were served at noon Friday. But the event's official start time was 5 p.m. Thursday when a group of volunteers started putting together Easter baskets — 1,242 of them — that were given away Friday. Thursday night, the pork began cooking inside eight 250 gallon or so drum grills at 6 p.m.

Chief chef Chester Rives, 75, has slow-roasted pork for Rescue Mission Easters for the past 16 to 17 years, he said.

“I left here [Thursday] night at 9 p.m. and got back here at 6 a.m. [Friday]” Rives said while wearing a full-length barbeque apron as meals were served around him. “I wasn't one of the all-nighters. I told them age has its privileges.”

Side dishes Friday included 200 pounds of potato salad and 200 pounds of coleslaw. Some 2,000 desserts were consumed.

Those who wanted to attend lined up outside the Rescue Mission's church on East Main Street, waited their turn to enter, sat in a pew and listened to a sermon that on average lasted 30 minutes.

After the worship sessions, guests filed passed the lectern and out a side door into the celebration grounds' daylight where they received three printed tickets: one for an Easter basket, one for a meal and one for a bag of groceries. Racks of donated clothing were hanging for all to peruse and take.

Around 5,200 articles of clothing and new socks and 654 bags of groceries were given away.

Also, there was a model potato 28 feet long, 12 feet wide, 11.5 feet tall, weighing 12,130 pounds that, if real, would take 2 years and 9 months to bake and if mashed would create 30,325 servings or 1.4 million french fries.

The Idaho Potato Commission's The Big Idaho Potato Truck is a bright red semi-truck hauling the elephantine spud driven by Larry “LarBear” Bathe accompanied by “The Tater Twins,” Jessica Coulthard and Kaylee Wells.

“It's The Tater Twins and Larry,” Coulthard said. “We come first. Not the other way around.”

The Tater Twins have worked for the Idaho Potato Commission for the past 6 months when they applied for employment together but have been best friends for nine years, Wells said.

Bathe drives the truck around the country promoting Idaho potatoes. Once in Brooklyn, New York the potato truck was put on a barge and toured up and down the Hudson and East rivers that surround the island of Manhattan.

On Friday, The Tater Twins and Bathe displayed a board and for everyone who signed their name on the board, Idaho Potato Commission donated a dollar to the Durham Rescue Mission.

The outer “skin” of the potato is made out of concrete. A layer of sculpting foam separates the concrete from the model's steel core frame.

While traveling the Interstates, Bathe said other drivers will often pull up next to the potato truck's cab and, while steering their own vehicle, snap a selfie the gargantuan spud Solanum tuberosum — or in common parlance, the potato.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks