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From Food To Advocacy: How You Can Help Someone In New Orleans This Holiday Season

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Ben Depp/National Geographic Society
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Left to right, Niki Rain, Kati Fink, Emily Morgan and Micah Sapp, volunteers with Elysian Meals, box up jambalaya to feed unhoused people on the street. New Orleans, Louisiana. April 21, 2020.

This holiday season, many of us are struggling to find cheer amid the gloom. If you’re in a position to give, maybe you’re looking to spread some cheer — or if not cheer, relief — by donating to a local organization addressing the many challenges our neighbors face.

Before COVID-19 hit, Louisiana topped the charts when it came to incarceration rates, poverty, poor health outcomes, racial disparities, homelessness, environmental pollution and more. The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated many of those problems.

But in the past 10 months, the greater New Orleans community has also come together to assist some of its most vulnerable people. Here we have put together a list of some of the organizations working to provide direct assistance.

Housing

The New Orleans Women’s Shelter is the largest organization serving women and children experiencing homelessness in New Orleans. They are dedicated to creating a safe, secure and stable environment, and provide classes, tools and resources to empower self-sufficiency.

Hagar’s House is a shelter and transitional housing for women and children that provides an open and empowering residential community, resource coordination, and a safe space to transition into sustainable housing.You may also donate directly to families in-need.

Advocacy

Familias Unidas en Acción is a grassroots, membership-based organization of immigrant parents in New Orleans. The organization helps newly arrived immigrants navigate systems from immigration court to schools to health care. Familias Unidas is also incubating Vision 2020, a worker-owned cooperative that builds on the skills of our members, offering professional construction, painting and cleaning services.

Son of a Saint works to enhance the lives of fatherless boys through mentorship, emotional support, development of life skills, exposure to constructive experiences, and formation of positive, lasting peer-to-peer relationships.

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services assists low-income people in Louisiana by enforcing and defending their legal rights through civil legal aid, advocacy, and community education. They are defending many who are facing illegal evictions during the pandemic.

Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative is a community land trust and housing rights organization committed to creating sustainable, democratic and economically just neighborhoods and communities in New Orleans. They provide direct assistance to renters facing eviction or other challenges.

Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy is a legal services organization that defends the rights of immigrant communities and advocates for just and humane immigration policy. ISLA attorneys visit detained immigrants at the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center on a weekly basis and provide pro bono representation.

Grow Dat Youth Farm is an urban farm that provides unique opportunities for New Orleans youth to develop leadership skills and initiate change in their communities alongside a diverse group of their peers, staff and community partners.

Operation Restoration supports women and girls impacted by incarceration to recognize their full potential and restore their lives. The organization was created by and for formerly incarcerated women and provides educational, financial and advocacy support.

El Pueblo Nola/Our Village is a grassroots community organization in New Orleans East that provides direct assistance to Black and brown communities. Services include free HIV testing, health education, student advocacy, cultural programming, language rights and access, legal resources, and know-your-rights training.

Imagine Water Works provides information and direct aid to individuals and other nonprofits. They have been distributing socks, MREs, and tablets for remote learning. The group has a holiday program that is delivering decorations, essential supplies, gifts and food to over 200 people both in New Orleans and Lake Charles.

NOLA Grannies are a group of grassroots volunteers who meet and assist legal asylum-seeking immigrants released from detention as they pass through the bus station in New Orleans on their way to their sponsors, where they will pursue their immigration cases. All cash donations can be made to the NOLA Grannies PayPal

Food

Southern Solidarity organizes the delivery of food, medical resources and basic needs directly to the unhoused in the downtown area of New Orleans. They could also use volunteer drivers, shoppers and cooks.

New Orleans Community Fridges is a mutual aid effort that provides a network offering free food in Community Fridges. You can visit a fridge and donate food, donate money to the organization, or even sponsor a fridge.

Community Kitchen serves free meals and distributes food in New Orleans. Volunteers provide meals every Tuesday at 3pm at Duncan Plaza.

GNO Caring Collective provides meals, donations and groceries to community members who lack food security either due to a lost job, lack of transportation, or the inability to go out due to a compromised immune system.

Health care

CrescentCare is a community clinic focused on providing care for folks who come from traditionally medically underserved communities: the service industry, the LGBTQ community, the uninsured and the underinsured, immigrants, and communities of color.

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