Allstate Insurance Company

has partnered with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) to create the "Jazz for Generations" program to help support the cultural revitalization of New Orleans. Among the events presented by NOJO and Allstate are a "Visit with Jazz" educational session featuring members of the LSU and Notre Dame football teams, in New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and an Allstate Sugar Bowl benefit concert at the Sheraton New Orleans on Tuesday (Jan. 2).

Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints

All-Pro quarterback, is helping turn the city around off the field while he leads our football team on the field. Brees auctioned off his Superdome skybox for the Sugar Bowl and donated the $40,000 proceeds to the Brees Dream Foundation, a nonprofit he and his wife established to support cancer research. Brees also raised thousands for Covenant House by donating a round of golf and lunch with himself — and he visited Covenant House to deliver gifts and school supplies to kids there.

Local shoppers

gave area retailers a cheery Christmas season, bucking a national trend of disappointing holiday sales. Storeowners and managers say sales this year rivaled those of 2004, which was a banner year, and they attribute the large local volume to people moving back to their homes after Hurricane Katrina. Equally important, the uptick in retail sales was evident across the metropolitan area as shoppers shifted their priorities from furniture and household goods to clothing and other soft goods.

Dim-witted thieves

broke into the eastern New Orleans warehouse where famed sculptor John Scott and fellow artist Ron Bechet kept many of their works and carted the artworks off, apparently to sell as scrap metal. Thieves have been stealing copper nationwide, and particularly in southeast Louisiana, where many homes and businesses are installing new pipes and gutters. Scott's works were mostly bronze, not copper, but the philistine burglars chopped them up anyway and hauled them off.