The tables at Zweli’s Kitchen were full of donations of food, clothing, and school supplies Sunday after the Durham community rallied in support of the over 300 residents evacuated from McDougald Terrace over carbon monoxide concerns. 

Dozens of volunteers gathered at the restaurant to help deliver the food and supplies to the hotels where the displaced families are staying. Over 4,000 items were dropped off by a steady stream of residents throughout the day, owners Zweli and Leonardo Williams believe. 

“The outpour from the community has just been tremendous,” Zweli Williams told the INDY Sunday. 

The Durham Housing Authority began voluntarily evacuating 111 families from McDougald Terrace Friday after at least 10 incidents of potential carbon monoxide exposure in the last few weeks. Two infants from public housing complex have died since November—their cause of death is unconfirmed—and a third is currently hospitalized, according to the News & Observer. 

On Thursday, residents gathered at a public meeting to voice concerns about unsafe living conditions at the complex, which was built in 1953 and received a failing score following a 2018 health inspection. The next day, DHA began relocating the 342 residents to nine different hotels, the N&O reported. 

Zweli’s Kitchen started collecting donations Sunday, Leonardo Williams says, and volunteers formed assembly lines at the hotels to distribute supplies to the residents.

“When I was talking to some of the residents, they did feel forgotten until community members stepped up,” Leonardo Williams says. 

The restaurant will continue to supply meals for the residents “until we run out,” he says.  They are now asking folks to drop off non-perishable food items, clothing, and school supplies.

“At this point, we want to focus on sustainability and what happens next,” Leonardo Williams says. 

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe has raised over $1,000 for the residents, which will be used to purchase more food and supplies, says organizer Frances Castillo.

She plans to attend the Durham City Council’s meeting tomorrow night, which will take place at 7 p.m. at City Hall. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the city has to say,” Frances Castillo told the INDY. 

Zweli’s Kitchen is located at 4600 Chapel Hill Boulevard. They are accepting donations during business hours—from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Contact Raleigh News Editor Leigh Tauss at 

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