Embracing acts of kindness and charity over the holidays.

Most of us are fortunate enough to be together with loved ones over the holidays, sharing ample food and gifts. But there are many in need throughout our community. Let’s give our children another blessing—the gift of giving back.



To help your children get into the spirit of altruism and being empathetic, allow them to have meaningful interactions with those who are less fortunate.

 New Orleans Mission, 1129 Baronne St., New Orleans  504.523.2116, neworleansmission.org

The Mission provides clothing, food, overnight emergency shelter and job placement services for those in need. Families with children as young as eight or nine can help serve meals (at the holidays, or anytime). 

Nursing Homes. Many residents don’t have family nearby, and don’t get regular visitors. They, especially, benefit from time spent with a volunteer visitor. Check out the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, click on “find a facility” to look for one that’s convenient to you, and then call their Activities Director to see if their volunteer program will work for you and your family. 

The Rebuild Center at St. Joseph’s Church, 1802 Tulane Ave., New Orleans, 504.273.5577, stjosephchurch-no.org. A coalition of Catholic and other faith-based organizations serving the Canal Street corridor, the Rebuilt Center has opportunities for families to help serve lunchtime meals on weekdays. You can sign up online at stjosephchurch-no.org/volunteer/. 

Second Harvest Food Bank’s Warehouse Food Repack, 700 Edwards Ave., New Orleans 504.729.2849,  no-hunger.org. Children as young as nine can help sort and salvage food donations in the warehouse, volunteers ages nine-12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Trinity Loaves and Fishes, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1329 Jackson Ave., New Orleans, 504.522.0276  trinitynola.com. The organization feeds over 2,000 people monthly with its truck that delivers meals throughout the New Orleans area. They welcome volunteers to help prepare meals, and also welcome donations of toiletries, linens, winter clothes, and new socks and new underwear.



If your children are too young, or your schedule is too crazed, for volunteer work, you can give back in other ways. Have your kids go through their gently used belongings to donate to charities. Or let them do specific chores for money and then use those funds to purchase supplies for someone in need.

Adopt-a-family programs. Many churches (as well as schools) throughout New Orleans promote “giving back” by arranging the “adoption” of a family in need. Your family would be responsible for purchasing specific gift items—often including clothes for the parent(s) and clothing and/or toys for the children—for one family. Have your kids help with the planning, shopping and wrapping.

Bridge House & Grace House, 1160 Camp St., New Orleans, bridgehouse.org.  Each year they have 100 volunteers help serve both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. While all those volunteer spots were filled by the time nola family went to press, they’re still in need of donated food and more for those occasions; contact Stephanie Clary at sclary@bridgehouse.org or 504.821.7134 for more information.

Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans, la-spca.org. Let’s not forget about our furry friends this holiday season! The Louisiana SPCA has an ongoing need of supplies—dog beds, treats, food, and much more—that’s detailed on its website.

 Metropolitan Center for Women & Children, 503 Julius Ave., New Orleans, 504.837.5400, mcwcgno.org. Check out their website for a list of items they especially need; they always have use for new and used women’s and children’s clothing as well as school and household items. Drop-off times are Mondays and Wednesdays, 8:30 am-4 pm.

New Orleans Women and Children’s Shelter, 2020 South Liberty St., New Orleans, nowcs.org. While the shelter, like most nonprofits, prefers monetary donations, they also accept gifts of supplies and services. For a list of their current needs, please call 504.962.6697 or email thoward@nowsc.org .

Toys for Tots, drop-off locations throughout New Orleans. From the beginning of Nov. through mid-December, drop off new, unwrapped toys for local families in need. For a list of locations, visit toysfortots.org.