Rescue Mission calls community together for Good Friday fun

Cousins Shinesty Cates (middle), 10, and Kiyah Wilkerson (right), 9, excitedly compare what they got in their Easter baskets. (Staff photo by Brooke Helton)


There was no single reason why Good Friday at the Durham Rescue Mission was a special event; there were thousands of reasons.

Ricardo Stevens and two of his grandchildren, Asiaa Eeas and Kenariyah English, enjoying their Easter baskets, balloon animals, and stuffed animals they got at the event. (Staff photo by Thaddeus Berglund)

With help from churches, businesses and individuals in the community, the Durham Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter and addiction recovery program, gave away over 1750 Easter baskets and 10,000 articles of clothing to help Durham families have a great Easter weekend.

In addition to the clothes and baskets, the Rescue Mission served 2,400 hotdogs, 900 pounds of barbecue and handed out over 750 bags of canned goods. All they asked for in return was a smile and good time.

“This is one of the best events I have seen here,” said Ricardo Stevens, who comes to the event with his grandchildren every year. “The barbecue is off the chain.”

For many families like his, the Good Friday event is a way to fit in and have a great time with their own family as well as the Durham community – which is, in its own way, like a second family. The kids played games or had balloon animals made, while the parents found peace in knowing that the Easter weekend would start out with a smile.

Asiaa Eeas, Steven’s granddaughter, has attended the event for the last eight years with him. This year was different because two of her cousins, Kendell and Kenariyah English, came along for the first time. But her favorite part of the event didn’t change.

“Getting the balloon animals is my favorite,” Asiaa said.

For other families, the event showed that people in the community care about them and are willing to come together to ensure everyone has a wonderful Easter.

Mickey Royster and his two sons, TyJay and TyLee, have been coming to the Good Friday event for over eight years and always enjoy it. Royster and his sons also attend many other Rescue Mission events, and said they appreciate everything the mission has done for them.

Johnnie Bagley, who attends every year with her grandchildren, picking out a pair of jeans. (Staff photo by Brooke Helton)

While the Rescue Mission helped many Durham families this past Good Friday, it wouldn’t have been possible if without volunteers like Bernie Donato.

Donato, who retired from the Air Force 24 years ago, was at the Rescue Mission’s event volunteering with the Team Red, White & Blue organization for the second year in a row.

“Our goal is to enrich the lives of American veterans by connecting them with their community,” Donato said about the organization.

Donato and her group of volunteers helped run the children’s games and assisted in serving food. Team Red, White & Blue was a part of the 320 volunteers that made the event possible.

Even the famous Big Idaho Potato Tour was able to stop by. The giant potato-shaped truck parked at the event for people to take pictures, and the organization donated to the Rescue Mission as part of its nationwide tour.

Good Friday at the Durham Rescue Mission showed that Durham citizens can share in faith and joy no matter who they are. After attending Easter services in both Spanish and English, families came together to enjoy the same food, play the same games, and kick off the Easter weekend right.

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Volunteers from the veterans organization Team Red, White & Blue helping run the children’s games. (Staff photo by Brooke Helton)