YouCaring, a popular crowd-funding website, recently pointed to “clusters of compassion” across the Southeast United States. And which state was the most compassionate of all? Louisiana. According to their post outlining the most compassionate states for 2015, YouCaring gave Louisiana the top honor.
Generosity is part of our culture here, and while that translates to something as simple as welcoming a passerby in for a drink or bringing an extra pot of gumbo to the potluck, it also means putting our money toward charitable fundraising campaigns that speak to us. Even if you’re not a Louisiana native or resident, though, there are still plenty of ways to show you care. While you’re in New Orleans, why not add another memory to your trip by donating your time or money to one of these amazing local organizations?
Voluntourism Opportunities in New Orleans
Grow Dat Youth Farm — Located in historic City Park, Grow Dat Youth Farm teaches local youth about sustainable farming and food justice. The diverse group of students who participate in Grow Dat — a 7-acre eco-campus — learn important leadership skills that more often than not translate into apprenticeships, internships, and jobs. Volunteers at Grow Dat can get hands-on by participating in activities like weeding or planting; if getting down to earth just isn’t your thing, stop by their farmers market and help fund Grow Dat by purchasing (and eating!) the fresh, local produce they harvest.
New Orleans Mission — For almost 30 years, the New Orleans Mission has helped address the needs of people living on the streets. Beyond providing simply food and shelter, the Mission aims to change lives of not only those it serves but also its volunteers. Now, they offer an “Outreach Experience,” wherein an interested group or company can volunteer with the Mission for two hours. A sample experience might include grocery shopping for someone in need, then hand-delivering the goods and connecting with the recipient one-on-one for 30 minutes. Contact Steven Scaffidi at (504) 669-0189 for more information about this unique and transformative opportunity to help those in need.
St. Bernard Project — This homegrown organization aims to shorten the time between chaos and full recovery for citizens and communities following a natural disaster. Started as a direct result of Hurricane Katrina, the St. Bernard Project has expanded to assist people throughout the country, from Texas to Missouri to New York to, of course, Louisiana. Volunteers can participate in day-long activities like rebuilding homes or cleaning up sites; you can also donate here.
Team Gleason — One of our most beloved residents, former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, started this namesake charity in order to work toward a cure for ALS, the debilitating and currently incurable disease he suffers from. In addition to fun annual events like Gleason Gras, the organization aims to help everyone diagnosed with ALS put up a fight against the disease. Sign up for their newsletter to learn more about volunteer opportunities, which range from help at events to simply signing petitions for more compassionate healthcare legislation.
FestiGals’ Bodacious Bras for a Cause — It wouldn’t be a New Orleans charity without a little tongue-in-cheek fun. FestiGals, the annual festival for women, features a charitable component through its Bodacious Bras for a Cause fundraiser. Bid online or in person at this annual summer fundraiser (typically in June), and you’ll walk away with a bedazzled bra (part of your next New Orleans costume, perhaps?) and the satisfaction of knowing you’re directly supporting women suffering from cancer.
Fresh Food Factor — A side project of the Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans, this organization focuses on just one thing: making fresh, healthy food a staple rather than a rare treat. As schools face budget cuts, one of the first things to go are nutritious meal plans, supplanting them processed, cheaper, and less-nutritious foods. Fresh Food Factor prepares fresh, high-quality food from their 8,000-square-foot commercial kitchen to provide breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks to local schools and community facilities every single day. Volunteers can help with tasks like packaging, delivery, and even food prep.