Attitude of Gratitude: How to Give Back Locally This Thanksgiving

Attitude of Gratitude: How to Give Back Locally This Thanksgiving
Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s such a wonderful occasion to gather together with family and friends to feast and recognize the abundance in our lives. It’s a perfect opportunity to count and appreciate our many blessings, and to teach our children to do the same. But, why stop there? In addition to helping kids to realize how lucky we are to have roofs over our heads and food in our bellies, we can parlay that perspective into a practice of 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.



United Way of Southeast Louisiana

This organization identifies, assesses, and monitors the most pressing needs in our region. Then, they fund programs, support collaborations, convene experts, advocate for change, and foster new and needed community services to address the issues based on best practices. People can support this endeavor to provide quality health and human services for our community by donating funds or contacting the HandsOn Volunteer Center to discover the many programs, projects, and resources that need the time and efforts of individuals.


YMCA Home for the Holidays Program

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.



Boys Hope Girls Hope

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.


Bridge House / Grace House

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. To support this group, individuals can volunteer for the events, or donate cash, vehicles, or thrift items.


Children’s Hospital of New Orleans

Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit pediatric medical center offering a complete range of healthcare services for children from birth to 21 years, 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. They are having their Week of Giving on December 11-15, when donations can be dropped off between 9am-4pm. Call  504-896-9350 for delivery instructions. There is a list of partners on the website who accept donations throughout the year, if that week isn’t convenient. 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. Information on fundraising events, donations, wish lists, and volunteering is available on the website.; (504) 896-9375


Covenant House

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 their need for volunteers and monetary donations, Covenant House has an online Gift Catalog that allows you to choose items you’d like to purchase for homeless kids. They are also hosting a Sleep Out America event on November 16, which is a coast to coast fundraising movement where groups of friends, families, and coworkers sleep outside so kids don’t have to.

Hotel Hope

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. They are in need of financial donations for their capital campaign.


New Orleans Mission

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 Kidztown events on most holidays, 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 December 8, they’re hosting  fourth annual “Changing the Face of Homelessness” fundraising gala at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.


New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter

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.


Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Dept Thanksgiving Celebration

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office hosts its annual Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration every Thanksgiving Day at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The event, held on November 23 from 10am-1pm, is for people from Orleans and the surrounding parishes to enjoy a great meal and entertainment.  Volunteers are asked to pre-register online and report on Thanksgiving Day between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. They will receive four hours of community service for the event. Citizens and volunteers in need of a ride to the event can call the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office at (504) 202-9215.


Raintree Children & Family Services

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 routine efforts, this United Way partner agency holds a holiday toy drive for children in foster care starting in November, 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. Anyone interested in adopting a family or children in the group home can call Whitney Armentor at 504-899-9045 ext. 235. All other info can be found on the website.


Second Harvest Food Bank

Second Harvest has launched their Holiday Meal Drive, now through 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. There are also 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.


Volunteers of America

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 annual Christmas Wish Project to spread some holiday cheer to those in need this season. Gifts will need to be wrapped, labeled, and delivered to their office by Tuesday, December 4. The public can also donate money to the  Christmas Wish Project by Thursday, November 30.






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.


Child Advocacy Center Hope House

An independent, non-profit organization, its dedicated to ending the cycle of child abuse in our community by providing a path to recovery and a bridge to justice for victims of abuse. The CAC’s facility, Hope House, provides a warm, non-threatening environment for child victims to share their story, and receive professional support services to help with the healing process. The public can support this organization by donating funds, engaging in Stewards of Children training (open to adults and older teens), or attending the Men Who Cook competition on November 5.


Covington Food Bank

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 10 at 6:30pm, they’re hosting their annual Pallet With a Purpose fundraiser in their warehouse, featuring live music from Matthew Lemmler Jazz Trio and the Reginald Sanders Band, great food, plus a silent auction and wine pull. They are also seeking volunteer groups in November and December to help sort food donations.


Northshore Families Helping Families

NFHF works to provide the individualized services, information, resources, and support needed to positively enhance the independence, productivity, and inclusion of local individuals with disabilities. To maintain their endeavors, like their lending library, adult program, education, and health services, they are dependent on the commitment and support of community members who can choose from a broad array of volunteer opportunities.

Our Daily Bread Food Bank of Tangipahoa Parish

Our Daily Bread supports 26 local food pantries from Kentwood to Ponchatoula, and they distribute hot meals to residents twice a week, adding up to approximately 30,000 meals in a typical year. They will also be opening a new soup kitchen soon. Volunteers are needed to help unload truckloads of donated food at the warehouse, distribute food at the various pantries, and deliver the aforementioned hot meals. Through events like their Thanksgiving Servolution, this organization has mobilized hundreds of volunteers to serve thousands of individuals from our community. People can also organize their own food drives, or take advantage of this organization’s super handy virtual food drives option, which makes it easy to team up online with friends and family to raise donations in a virtual marketplace.


PRIDE Youth & Community Resources

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.


St Tammany Hospital’s Hospice Angels of Light

This long-standing tradition, which benefits St. Tammany Hospital’s Hospice program for terminally ill patients and their families, takes place on Thursday, December 7 at 5:30pm  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. Refreshments will be provided during the tree lighting ceremony. Info on purchasing an angel and other sponsorship opportunities are on the website.


Tangi Food Pantry

The focus of this organization is to distribute a nutritional balance of food and implement nutritional education once a month to applicants who qualify, and also to distribute food in emergency situations. Most of their resources depend on donations from the community, so they happily accept donations. Volunteers are needed to assist clients with paperwork, fill grocery bags, stock shelves, and distribute food to the clients.


Tangipahoa Voluntary Council On Aging

This organization aims to help residents of Tangipahoa Parish ages 60 and older remain independent and in their own homes as long as possible. Volunteers and case managers serve home delivered meals to seniors, plus there are centers in Amite, Hammond, Independence, Ponchatoula, and Kentwood where seniors can go for free hot congregate meals and lunches. They also provide helpful  information on resources such as Medicare, transportation, and activities for seniors and their spouses.