The people of New Orleans have a reputation for being generous — and this reputation is well-deserved. But on Tuesday, we’ll get to show Atlanta and Birmingham and Charlotte and Houston just how generous we can be.
New Orleans will be one of 75 cities across the country that will be hosting a special day of giving on May 6. You might have seen the GiveNOLA Day print ads or the yard signs. You might have heard the GiveNOLA Day jingle composed by New Orleans’ beloved Allen Toussaint on the radio. You might, we hope, have already caught the giving fever.
GiveNOLA Day, sponsored by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and its generous partners, invites all the great souls in our 13-parish region to give to their favorite charities during a 24-hour celebration of giving. It’s the one day in the year of many festivals and celebrations when we will come together to give as one.
If you visit the site, you’ll recognize many of the names. These organizations mentor our children and enrich our community through the arts; they heal our sick and care for our homeless; they support people with disabilities and work to restore our vanishing coastline.
These are organizations that work hard throughout the year to hold it all together for us. On this special day, we’ll be taking just a little time out from our daily round to thank them for all they do to enhance our quality of life and make the New Orleans region the special place it is.
If you’re like me, you like a good deal, so you’ll be pleased to learn that each dollar you contribute through the GiveNOLA.org website will get a little lagniappe from a special fund established thanks to the generosity of many donors eager to make May 6 an extra-special day for our community’s charities. There will be cash prizes for the organizations that raise the most money and attract the most donors. There will be “rock-around-the-clock” prizes — one for each hour of May 6 — awarded to randomly selected charities.
If you’re near downtown New Orleans on May 6, consider visiting Lafayette Square between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. There, a giant leaderboard will show the total number of donations and dollars raised in real time.
But the best way to be part of GiveNOLA Day is to give. Give as if your lives depend on it, because in so many ways, they do. The organizations we’ll be supporting on May 6 have struggled through economic downturns and shrinking public coffers to keep the lights on. Their staffs work long hours for short pay. And often they work in the shadows.
We would miss them if one day they all disappeared. We would see our crime rates skyrocket. The number of homeless men and women congregating under the I-10 overpass would swell. The scores of food pantries across our region would see their shelves go empty and children go hungry. There would be no concerts, no exhibitions and few places to take our children on a Sunday afternoon.
It’s thanks to our generosity — to your generosity — that our part of the world is the special place it is. It’s a place transformed by giving.
I hope you’ll join me and countless others in celebrating that spirit of giving on GiveNOLA Day, May 6, and throughout the year.
G. Albert Ruesga is president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Foundation.