As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, and we look forward to feasting and celebrating with loved ones, many of us feel compelled to take inventory of all the blessings we often take for granted, and share this spirit of gratitude with our children. Helping them to realize how lucky we are to have roofs over our heads, food in our bellies, and healthy bodies gives them the kind of perspective that sets the stage for sharing with those less fortunate.
There are plenty of local organizations on both shores that are in desperate need of your compassion and generosity to continue helping those in need. Please consider donating your time or resources, as a family, to celebrate to the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
In addition to their ongoing efforts to eradicate poverty in our region, United Way of Southeast Louisiana recognizes that recovery from the recent flooding requires a complex approach. They initially set up a Flood Relief and Recovery Fund to address immediate needs, but they have shifted to long-term recovery efforts to fill unmet needs, provide grants to community partners and other nonprofit organizations to assist with recovery, and support other response and recovery efforts.
Due to overwhelming generosity, their Southshore and Northshore drop off locations are now closed, but they still need funds to meet the changing needs of flood victims. Visit their website for information on how to contribute.
Second Harvest is launching their Holiday Meal Drive from November 1 – December 31. The goal is to collect 110,000 pounds of food and $50,000 to help ensure families across South Louisiana get the food they need during the holidays and throughout the year. For every dollar collected, Second Harvest can provide three meals. People can donate holiday meal items and/or funds to help ensure everyone has a place at the table. Itt also has links and tips to help people have an even greater impact by starting a team and holding an online fundraiser, or holding a food drive at their office, school, or other location. They’re looking for dry, non-perishable food items. For more information on starting a food drive or a list of suggested donation items, click here. For general information about Second Harvest, visit their website.
The Y’s Home for the Holidays program delivers meals to elderly and homebound people on Thanksgiving Day, supplementing the Meals on Wheels program sponsored by the Council on Aging. Starting at 5am Thanksgiving morning, volunteers begin cooking and preparing over 1,500 meals. Members of the YMCA and their families bake homemade desserts to include in each meal and local school children create handmade cards for each senior. Once the meals are packaged, over 200 volunteers deliver them to homebound seniors in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Tammany parishes. For information on how to donate and/or volunteer, visit their website.
Hotel Hope is working to renovate the former convent at Blessed Trinity Parish (formerly St. Mathias), located at 4222 S. Broad Street. Their mission will be to keep homeless families together and move them from homelessness to self-sufficiency through a three stage service model that involves providing crisis intervention services, residential stability, and help in achieving economic self-sufficiency. Go here to find out how to help make this happen.
Boys Hope Girls Hope is a nonprofit agency that helps children-in-need realize their full potential through education. It is the goal of this organization to help children and young people in their care to complete a college education, then put their education to work for the benefit of others, including their families and communities. This 100% privately funded organization’s annual fundraising events are critical to maintaining the housing and care that their scholars depend on for future success. New Orleans fundraisers include an annual gala, golf tournament, tennis tournament, and Crescent City Classic 10k run. They also welcome cash donations via their website.
This organization provides long-term residential, gender-specific treatment to help individuals who are dependent on drugs and/or alcohol lead sober and productive lives. They host three annual dinners at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas in July. These three events provide a traditional holiday meal, toiletries, clothing, and fellowship to the homeless and indigent population of the Greater New Orleans Area. Plus, they help to raise awareness within the homeless and indigent population of services provided by Bridge House / Grace House. The volunteer slots are full for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you can donate cash or the aforementioned items. Contact Stephanie Clary at email@example.com or 504-821-7134 to learn more about the items needed to make this event a success. Click here for all the ways to contribute to this organization.
The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office hosts its annual Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration every Thanksgiving Day at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The event is for people from Orleans and the surrounding parishes to enjoy a great meal and entertainment. Volunteers will receive 4 hours of community service for their efforts, and they are asked to arrive at 9am. Be sure to visit the website as dates and details become available.
The largest shelter for homeless women and children in the metro area, New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter has served more than 750 women and children since 2007. A large majority of the children at the shelter are under the age of ten, and 80% of the families helped since 2007 have transitioned to sustainable, independent living. Volunteers can get involved with shift coverage, answering the door and receiving calls, donation organization, fundraising, office management, resident programing, and much more. Some NOWS volunteers have even launched programs about in-house garden management, art workshops, yoga lessons, and other areas of interest, so your hobby or profession could be exactly what their residents need. Go here for was to donate and volunteer.
Children’s Hospital is a 247-bed, not-for-profit pediatric medical center offering a complete range of healthcare services for children from birth to 21 years. With over 40 pediatric specialties and more than 400 physicians, it is the only full-service hospital exclusively for children in Louisiana and the Gulf South. The hospital is happy to receive in-kind or non-monetary donations throughout the year, and toys, clothing, toiletries and other appropriate items are greatly appreciated, as well. Due to infection control policies, all donated items should be brand new and in original packaging. There are also various ways you can volunteer your time for the hospital throughout the year, plus many events to benefit the hospital, including the Jazz Half Marathon in late October, the Marriott Golf Classic on November 7, and the Sugar Plum Ball coming up in March. Cash donations can be allocated to: The Cancer Program, The Critical Care Units, Kids Fund, The Leaman Family Fund, Hogs for the Cause Fund, Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, Child Life, The Guild or The Emergency Transport Helicopter.For details on fundraising events, donations, wish lists, and volunteering, click here or call (504) 896-9375.
VOA of Greater New Orleans has been serving the most vulnerable since the 1890s, when they started helping indigent women and children. Today, they sponsor a wide variety of programs that assist children, families, seniors, veterans and persons living with disabilities in 16 parishes in south Louisiana. Of course, they accept donations throughout the year, and there are always youth mentoring programs that are in need of volunteers, but they’re also currently gearing up for their 15th Annual Christmas Wish Project to spread some holiday cheer to those in need this season. If you let them know how many people you would like to adopt, they will send you wish lists. Gifts will need to be wrapped, labeled, and delivered to their office by Tuesday, December 6th. The public can also donate money to the Christmas Wish Project by Wednesday, November 30, via the websiteby selecting “Christmas Wish Project” in the gift designation menu.
The New Orleans Mission provides food, shelter, clothing and spiritual guidance to the city’s homeless, hurting and hungry. Their commitment to meet the physical, social and spiritual needs of the homeless community is backed by the financial support of generous local residents, churches, organizations and corporate donors, but they are always looking for volunteers to help in their efforts. Groups, families and individuals can bring food to impoverished areas or serve breakfast, lunch or dinner at the mission. There’s also a ministry team from that seeks out the homeless in our city, and they host a monthly Kidztown event, where they go to a local neighborhood to set up fun activities for the local community, plus they provide food, a live band, and a presentation of the Gospel. Coming up on November 4 from 6-10pm, they’re hosting a fundraising gala at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. For information on these and other opportunities to support the Mission, click here.
There are multiple ways to contribute to this organization, which provides food, clothing, shelter, and comprehensive services to youth who are among the most damaged in our community, most of whom are victims of physical and/or sexual abuse, domestic and/or street violence, and the resulting trauma that often leads to substance abuse, mental health issues, and more. In addition to providing for their residents on a regular basis, Covenant House typically provides Christmas gifts to their residents, so they look for brand new items for residents ages 16-22 (male and female) and their children (babies and toddlers). To watch for updates on holiday events and activities, to see the wish list or get a link to their Amazon wishlist, or to learn about service projects, volunteer opportunities, or to make a regular monetary donation or to learn more about Covenant House, click here.
This organization’s mission is “to provide needed services to at-risk children and youth, encouraging hope and creating opportunities for growth and independent lives.” In addition to their year-round efforts, this United Way partner agency holds an annual holiday toy drive for children in foster care and are they always looking for groups to participate. They provide a wishlist for each child, and the children range from infancy to 17 years old. For a lot of these children, it’s the first time they’ve ever had a holiday of any kind or had gifts under the tree, so it’s an extra special drive. To find out how to contribute, call 504-899-9045, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website.
The fourth annual event, held at Chappapeela Sports Park on November 19 is a great opportunity to burn some pre-holiday calories while supporting the Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center and Our Daily Bread food bank. The Mashed Potato Mile starts at 8am and the 5K run starts at 8:30am. Participants can pre-register at Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center at 113 N. Cypress Street in Hammond. Race day registration will start at 7:30am. For more details, or to find out about volunteer opportunities, visit their website.
Covington Food Bank provides food assistance to more than 375 individuals and families each week who have found themselves in need.The Food Bank is supported by local food drives held by individuals, schools, civic organizations and businesses, as well as monetary donations and Second Harvest donations. At this time of year, they are in need of basic food items, including cereal, canned tuna and chicken, dry beans, and rice. On November 11 at 6:30pm, they’re hosting their Pallet With a Purpose fundraiser in their warehouse, featuring live music, food, and a silent auction. They are also seeking volunteer groups in November and December to help sort food donations. Call (985) 893-3003 or visit their website for more information, or to learn about hosting a food drive.
This long-standing tradition, which benefits St. Tammany Hospital’s Hospice program for terminally ill patients and their families, takes place on Thursday, December 8 from 5:30pm-6:30pm in the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Lobby in Covington. People are invited to honor or memorialize a loved one with the purchase of an angel, which will adorn the Tree of Life. During the tree lighting ceremony, there will be refreshments, as well as live music. To purchase an angel or learn about other sponsorship opportunities, go here or call (985)-898-4141.
ACCESS, which stands for adapting and changing children’s environment with successful solutions, raises funds to provide financial grants to families of children Southeastern Louisiana and the Gulf South Region with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and autism.These grants are used to purchase adaptive equipment, assistive devices, home/car/van modifications, and other interventions that are not covered by private insurance and/or Medicaid. The organization’s annual fundraisers include BooFest at Halloween and Sweet Soiree in the spring, but they also accept individual donations and sponsorships. For ways to contribute, click here.
PRIDE stands for Parent’s Resource Institute for Drug Education, but it also has a teen component in which young leaders sign contracts promising to be drug-free and help their peers be drug-free as well. They hold multiple socials and community events assist in their efforts to promote the healthy, drug-free development of the youth and families within St. Tammany Parish. There are many ways to contribute to this organization, including donating silent auction items for Red Ribbon Gala each October, making a one-time or monthly donation, or shopping online through AmazonSmile. For more information about ways to contribute, call (985) 727-7710, email email@example.com, or visit their website.