For a little extra summer cash, Demosthenes “Demo” Megaloudis, 12, and his brother Alexandrous “Alex,” 11, often help their parents take orders and load supplies onto Gussy’s Greek Food truck.
But on Tuesday, they were donating their time. Following through on an idea inspired by their father and their parish, St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church of Durham – the boys helped serve a free lunch dedicated to the men trying to restart their lives at Durham Rescue Mission.
Although they had served with the food truck at St. Barbara, they wanted to do something more. They considered a homeless shelter as as an ideal, and landed on Durham since their family is heavily invested in the city.
Along with three other food trucks, Stuft, Chick-N-Que, and Not Just Icing, Gussy’s Greek Food gave away a total of 210 meals of barbecue, gourmet potatoes, gyros and cupcakes from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Spotty rain showers did not deter the men, who stood in steady lines in the East Main Street campus parking lot for the food before returning to class at the mission or to shifts at work.
During the past few years, food trucks have become a fixture of the Triangle, growing in rapid numbers and creating a family-like community, said Gus Megaloudis, owner of Gussy’s Greek Food.
Apparently, they are a family characterized by being eager to serve, donating a day’s wages and a truckload of $5 to $8 meals.
Not Just Icing served around 180 of their $3 cupcakes in less than two hours.
“I made four calls, and I got four trucks,” said Megaloudis, although one truck’s generator died at the last minute.
Megaloudis said that the day cost him about $500 to $600 in meals.
“There are some things money cannot make you feel,” Megaloudis said.
The giveaway saved the mission about $430 the center would have spent on the men’s lunch. Tony Gooch, director of developmental operations at the mission, said summers can be difficult as the food banks become lower on food and donations slow when people leave for vacation.
“Three meals here takes the same amount of food that could feed a family of four for a year,” said David Cash, volunteer coordinator at the mission.
Gail Mills, founded the Durham Rescue Mission with husband, Ernie Mills, 40 years ago after he witnessed his father die from an alcohol addiction.
They opened up their first home in 1974 and served 12 men within their first year.
The Center for Hope, which houses as many as 270 men, was built last year.
Demo and Alex were not the only kids eager to help, bringing along with them two full bags of clothes to donate. Emma Harrison, 11, and Isabelle Downs, 11, served up cheerful smiles along with thickly frosted cupcakes. Their mothers, Cristal Harrison and Donna Downs, co-owners of Not Just Icing, counted tickets.
One diner, Robert Early, 26, came to the Durham Rescue Mission less than two months ago. A self-labeled “troublemaker,” Early said he planned to enter the program on his own time until a judge ordered him to the mission’s Victory program.
“It’s what I needed for sure; I weren’t giving Jesus any credit. I was taking all the credit,” said Early, a commercial fisherman from Oriental.
Megaloudis is discussing with the mission the hope for monthly events, where various food trucks will alternate between the men’s and women’s campus, located on East Knox Street.
“This is a community that takes care of us, and it’s really nice to be able to give back to them,” said Megaloudis. “Today’s a special day.”