November 15, 2019

Sometimes, the best way to give thanks is to give back.

Here are a few ways you and your family can show appreciation and give support to your own family, your community, local servicepeople and first responders, and our homeless.


Lend a Hand
Kids can help out around the house with chores (bonus points if they help out without being asked). If you’re visiting extended family for the holiday, offer to help with setup or clean up before meals.

Capture Memories
Whether it is a scrapbook or a slideshow, sharing fond family memories will bring you closer and show you care. Include moments when the family provided support to show your thanks for all they have done.

Saying “thank you” aloud shows your family you notice and appreciate all they do and bring into your life. Mention how your kids, parents, spouse, and other family members at your table make you feel thankful. Encourage your whole dinner table to share their thanks, too.


Local churches and other organizations offer Thanksgiving meals for members and the community. If you have a knack for cooking or baking, help lighten their workload and sign-up or offer to bring a dish.

Welcome Friends
Some New Orleanians may not have nearby family. If there’s an extra seat at your dinner table, reduce leftovers and invite them over for a warm meal and friendship.

Your child’s school, your local library, or a nearby church coordinates drives around the holidays to provide extra warmth to those in need. Support their efforts by donating new or gently used items and/or canned goods.


Write a Letter
Operation Gratitude accepts letters from U.S. residents to send to troops, veterans, new recruits, wounded heroes, and first responders. Compose your own letter of thanks to brighten their day.

Some U.S. troops are stationed on remote islands or in desert locations with little or no access to technology. Support Our Troops uses donations to connect these soldiers to their families via satellite communication. During this time of reflection and thanks, give the gift of family.

Send a Gift Basket
First responders have long, grueling shifts. While they are at work protecting and serving our city, bring a thoughtful gift basket of New Orleans favorites like beignets and poboys to cheer them up and boost morale.


New Orleans lost a lot of housing after Hurricane Katrina, and we still have a ways to go. Habitat for Humanity, Rebuild Together, Uncommon Construction, and are just a few of the local organizations working to provide affordable and energy-efficient housing to the poor.

“You know the time that goes into making something, the sweat and the pain,” says Aaron Frumin of Uncommon Construction, which hosts community volunteer days.

If you don’t have much time on your hands, you can still make a difference. Many shelters accept donations in the form of in-kind items and monetary donations. These donations help provide additional resources necessary for clean, safe, and sanitary living.

Homeless shelters and shelters for women and children provide more than just soup on Thanksgiving. Hagar’s House, Covenant House, New Orleans Mission, Salvation Army, and Unity are just a few of the many local organizations that could use some extra hands.

“We do it because we enjoy the gift of giving back,” says Christna Freeman. She and her family serve lunch each year at the Ozanam Inn, a nonprofit based in the Warehouse District that benefits homeless families. “It's as simple as putting a smile on someone else's face during such a wonderful time of the year.”

Thyme Hawkins is our amazing edit intern at Nola Family.

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