The Times Picayune: Where to volunteer in the New Orleans area this holiday season
November 20, 2017 – Jennifer Larino
The holidays are a time for giving. For many, the opportunity to give one’s time, whether through traveling to see family, cooking for loved ones or volunteering in the community, is the most valuable gift of all.
We compiled a list of organizations and volunteer events for those interested in doing community service over Thanksgiving or the weeks following. At this point, many organizations have enough volunteers for Thanksgiving Day, however, they encourage people to sign up for opportunities over the next weeks and throughout the year when demand for help increases.
Here are events and organizations seeking help over the holidays:
Sheriff’s Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration
Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman will hold his annual Thanksgiving Day dinner for the public at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Volunteers are needed to serve food, clean tables and work other aspects of the event.
Volunteers are asked to pre-register online and arrive at the Convention Center between 9-9:30 a.m. on the day of the dinner. Here are the event details.
Sheriff’s Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration
Thursday, Nov. 23
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Hall I-2
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
New Orleans Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest is closed on Thanksgiving Day, but spokesman Jay Vise said the food bank welcomes volunteers before and after the holiday as well as in December.
Vise said the most need is in Second Harvest’s community kitchen, which prepares some 6,000 meals for senior citizens during the holidays as well as after-school meals for children across the city throughout the rest of the year. Volunteers must be at least 15 years old.
Here are details on volunteer shifts available for kids meal prep.
Second Harvest Community Kitchen
700 Edwards Avenue
Elmwood, LA 70123
Monday-Thursday: 8:30-11 a.m.; 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; and 12-2:30 p.m.
Friday: 8:30-11 a.m.
Volunteers are also sought for the organization’s re-pack room, which inspects and packages food donations. Contact Vanessa Cave-Herazo at email@example.com or call 504-729-2850 for more information.
Vise added the organization is about to kick off The Fruit Tree Project, which collects extra fruit from local residents with trees in their yard. Volunteers are needed to drive out to homes in the area, pick fruit, pack it and deliver it back to the food bank.
New Orleans Mission
The New Orleans Mission, which provides food, shelter and services to the homeless, will host two luncheons and a toy giveaway over the holidays.
Volunteers are needed to help serve food, hand out toys and help with other aspects of the events. Register to volunteer at the New Orleans Mission online and get more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the details for upcoming events.
New Orleans Mission
1134 Baronne St.
New Orleans, LA 70113
Tuesday, Nov. 21: Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon, starts at 12 p.m.
hursday, Dec. 21: Annual Christmas Luncheon, starts at 12 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 23: Annual Toy Giveaway, starts at 11 a.m.
New Orleans Mission will also be holding its annual fundraising gala at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, 601 Loyola Ave., on Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase online.
House of Blues
The House of Blues will host its annual “Feeding The Souls” event on Thanksgiving Day, where it welcomes the public for a turkey dinner served up by employees and volunteers from the community.
Kassie Flesher, executive assistant at the House of Blues New Orleans, said anyone who would like to volunteer is welcome. Volunteers are asked to contact Flesher at email@example.com ahead of time and wear comfy shoes.
Here are the details for the event.
Feeding The Souls
House of Blues
225 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Thursday, Nov. 23, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. (set up starts at 9:30 a.m.)
Bridge House/Grace House
Bridge House/Grace House hosts holiday dinners for the homeless, including one the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day and a Christmas dinner on Dec. 17 this year. The organization is booked and is not seeking anymore volunteers for this year’s dinners.
There are still opportunities to help, however. Bridge House/Grace House is still seeking donations of food, disposable food service items, toiletries and clothing. Contact Stephanie Clary at 504-821-7134 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to donate.
While you’re thinking about it, you can get a jump on next year by signing up to volunteer for one of the organization’s 2018 dinners. Contact Felice Delahoussaye at 504-821-7288 or email@example.com for more info.
Annual Community-Wide Thanksgiving Dinner
Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Slidell is looking for volunteers to help with the Annual Community-Wide Thanksgiving Dinner, which delivers turkey, pie and other fixings to the homebound, needy families and anyone else who is in need of good company and a good meal.
Suzie Hunt, director of congregational care and missions for Aldersgate, said volunteers are needed to start cooking around 7 a.m. Thanksgiving Day; deliver meals by vehicle starting around 10 a.m.; and to work clean up around noon.
Hunt said those who plan on volunteering must notify Aldersgate at 985-326-9846 by close of business Wednesday, Nov. 22. Here are the event details.
Annual Community Wide Thanksgiving Dinner
Aldersgate United Methodist Church
360 Robert Blvd
Slidell, LA 70458
Thursday, Nov. 23; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
(Kitchen volunteers arrive at 7 a.m.)
The Good Samaritan Ministry
The Good Samaritan Ministry, a ministry of the St. Luke the Evangelist and St. Margaret Mary Roman Catholic parishes in Slidell, is also booked with volunteers for its meal service over Thanksgiving, but people are needed to help sort food donations leading up to the holiday. Here are the details. Call 985-641-6421 for more information.
St. Luke the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church
910 Cross Gates Blvd.
Slidell, LA 70461
Saturday, Nov. 18: Food sorting, starts at 9 a.m.
Monday, Nov. 20: Check-in/registration for Thanksgiving meals, starts at 10 a.m.
The Good Samaritan Ministry also partners with St. Tammany Parish for St. Tammany Project Christmas, which delivers gifts to more than 600 children in need. Volunteers are needed from Dec. 10-16 to sort through gift donations and put together bikes, play kitchen sets and other toys. The organization also needs shoppers to go out and buy items that are in need of being fulfilled after initial donations come in.
Distribution of the gifts occurs on Dec. 16, though the organization said the greater need is during the weekdays leading up to that day. Read more about St. Tammany Project Christmas.
The organization is also looking for year-round volunteers to help it greet and process paperwork for families seeking assistance.
High Voltage Youth Camp
The High Voltage youth advisory board and the Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center, which acts as the organization’s headquarters, is on break through Nov. 27, but president Katherine Johnson said the organization needs volunteers to help with and donate to its Bags of Hope project, which provides essential items to the homeless.
Donations sought include socks, bar soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, facial tissue, hand sanitizers, face towels and deodorant. The bags will be donated to Covenant House, Ozanam Inn and Rain Tree Children and Family Services.
Here are the drop-off details. Call 504-458-3848 for more information on how to help.
Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center
2200 Lafitte Street
New Orleans, LA 70119
Nov. 27 – Dec. 12
Monday-Friday: 8-5 p.m.
Johnson said she is also seeking volunteers to help run and teach etiquette to young people in the community. Opportunities are available throughout the year. More information available online here.
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans
The opportunity to adopt and donate a food basket to a family in need for the Thanksgiving holiday has passed, but Catholic Charities is still looking for people to buy gifts and food for its Christmas food basket, Adopt-An-Angel and Adopt-A-Family programs. Download and fill out the online adoption form to get started with the process. Send the form and any questions to Susan Lackey at 504-310-6961 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gift drop offs will be scheduled from Dec. 4-15, and will be assigned to you when you receive your adoption information.
Residents can also make a monetary donation through the ongoing Archbishop Hannan Community Appeal, which raises funds to support Catholic Charities programs. The campaign aims to raise $1.82 million to support programs that serve some 80,000 people each year.