Mar 242020

The Krewe of Red Bean makes a delivery to hospital workers. The project is multi-tiered: It feeds the front-lines while providing business to restaurants and  work to gig-less musicians. (via Instagram)

Donating or volunteering can alleviate the feelings of anxiety and helplessness — and the boredom — most of us are experiencing during this crisis. There are ways to help during this coronavirus pandemic without violating the stay-at-home order and putting yourself or others at risk.

At the same time, you can reduce the risk for the front-line workers, help an out-of-work musician earn some money, virtually tip your favorite bartender, cheer up a nursing home resident and more. You don’t even need to donate — if you buy a restaurant gift card now, you can treat yourself and others to a nice dine-in meal when all this is over.  (updated March 28)

Help with errands and more

Serving Seniors Program: Volunteer drivers are needed to pick up and deliver meals to the doorsteps of seniors and other high-risk residents on Mondays and Thursdays from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Hands On New Orleans, in partnership with World Central Kitchen, is coordinating the program. Each driver will deliver to five to six households in the same ZIP code.

Volunteers use their own vehicle and must be between the ages of 18 and 59, healthy and have no risk factors for contracting COVID-19. Precautions will be taken to ensure proper social distancing of volunteers, disinfection of delivery materials, and frequent hand washing to prevent the spread of germs. To register, please click here. 

Mutual aid Facebook groups: Anyone who needs help — whether it is getting groceries and medications, assistance in child care or pet care, or finding a place to live — can post on these pages and get support. Requests for assistance can be anonymous. You can also post if you have a resource that will help others, such as extra food or household supplies.

There are two Facebook groups for this. One is called Covid-19 Mutual Aid (New Orleans); the other is Mutual Aid-New Orleans. The first group is for everyone, while the second group focuses more on helping people who have been laid off or lost hours due to Covid-19: service industry, retail workers, musicians, teachers, etc.

GNO Caring Collective: Sign up online to volunteer to help with food and medicine delivery or other assistance for people who are experiencing coronavirus-related emergencies.

Just in general: Check on your neighbors; ask if they need anything

Other volunteer opportunities

Stitchers Without Borders uses a pattern and materials approved by the Louisiana Department of Health. (via Facebook)

Sewing masks: Stitchers Without Borders is a group of volunteers who are sewing homemade medical masks to donate to hospitals in and around New Orleans. Walmart and others have donated fabric. See their Facebook page for information.

Medical and behavioral health volunteers: A network of volunteers is being deployed to support public health and medical efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers may be used for a variety of clinical and non-clinical tasks under the direction of the New Orleans Health Department and the State of Louisiana Department of Health. Apply here.

A service industry worker impacted by the emergency writes a message to everyone who has donated supplies, food, money and time to Second Harvest Food Bank. (via Facebook)

Second Harvest Food Bank: Second Harvest Food Bank has launched distribution sites for members of the hospitality industry and gig economy who find themselves without an income. It also supplies meals to seniors, children and anyone in need. See here to register as a volunteer.

Medical supplies

Supplies for Saints receives a shipment of medical supplies on Monday (March 23). (via Facebook)

Supplies for Saints is connecting local hospitals in need of medical masks, gowns and gloves with providers who are able to donate. If you have new and unused medical supplies, please contact Supplies for Saints through its Facebook page.

Tulane University is collecting N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields, goggles and glasses, medical gowns, gloves, hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, combivent MDIs, disposable stethoscopes, nasal swabs, viral media for transport, anti-viral kaletra, and hydroxychoroquine tabs.
Tulane is using the Department of Materials Management as a centralized location to receive items. For small quanties not requiring a pallet, you can ship or drop off to Murphy Building, 131 S. Robertson St., 1st Floor Innovations Lab, 504-988-9107. Hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m.  daily. For large quantities requiring a pallet, you can use 8333 Maple Street, 504-865-5211 8333. Hours are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. For pickups, please call 504-988-1527.

Attorney Kea Sherman is also collecting masks and gloves for LCMC Health (which includes University Medical Center and Touro) and Ochsner. If you’re a dentist or other medical professional, work in construction or just have a few extra masks to share, email to arrange for pickup.

Fabric for medical masks: RickRACK, a nonprofit that teaches kids sewing skills, has coordinated a mask production effort, with about 20 people sewing masks from an approved template. They could use more fabric. If you can donate cotton fabric, including bolts and rolls, email Drop-off is at the St. James Major Church, 3736 Gentilly Blvd., Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to noon.

Feeding hospital workers

A bulletin board at the University Medical Center fills up with notes the Krewe of Red Beans writes on the food boxes it leaves for hospital workers. (via Instagram)

The Krewe of Red Beans has devised a way to help the workers on the front lines of this crisis — nurses, emergency medical technicians, doctors, lab-technicians, hospital security — through their stressful days. At the same time, it is giving a boost to restaurants by placing large food orders. The krewe has been feeding 700 hospital workers a day while supporting 12 local restaurants and hiring gig-deprived musicians as delivery people. To support this project, donate through Venmo (@redbeansparade Note: #FeedtheFrontLine), Paypal ( or this GoFundMe page. For more information, visit Instagram @redbeansparade.

Support for musicians

Buy music: Go to your favorite bands’ websites to purchase directly or visit sites like BandcampCDBaby, iTunes and Amazon. Explore and discover new music — it’s a great way to pass the time during home confinement. You can also buy T-shirts and other merch to help bands when they can’t perform. And if you already have all of the regular releases, offers customized songs from many local musicians.

Virtual tipping: Some musicians are streaming live performances and offering tip jars via Venmo or other payment services. Check out WWOZ’s virtual gig calendar here. You can also follow bands and artists on social media to find out about these opportunities.

New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic provides comprehensive health services to musicians, performing artists and culture bearers in New Orleans. To donate, see here.

Support local baristas and bartenders

New Orleans Tipping Party: This is a list of bartenders around the city and their Venmos so that you can tip your favorite bartenders. See the list here.

Cure bar on Magazine Street is accepting donations to an emergency relief fund for its staff members: @CURECO-RELIEF on Venmo. It is also auctioning off bottles of rare vintage alcohol to support its staff; see its Instagram page.

Go Fund Bean: Basically the same idea as the New Orleans Tipping Party but for baristas. Instagram account @gofundbean opens up virtual tip jars for cafes. There are many other ways to help coffee shops as well, listed on this website.

More ways to donate

Hands On New Orleans: Hands On New Orleans specializes in disaster response programs. See here for information on donating or volunteering.

Second Harvest Food Bank has distribution sites to feed children, seniors and service industry employees. It is welcoming donations of fresh produce and non-perishable food items, as well as donations of cleaning supplies, soap and hand sanitizer. Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at their Elmwood location, 700 Edwards Avenue. Or click here to make a monetary donation for the emergency response. Email with questions.

St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, 1331 Esplanade Ave., has set up a large receptacle in the doorway of its Parish House to receive canned goods and other unopened, non-perishable food items which can be used to continue its Food Pantry for musicians, hospitality and restaurant workers, needy families and the homeless in the Treme area. Additionally, items for distribution to the homeless in need are shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lip balm, mints, new adult-sized socks, and new adult-sized 2X and 3X T-shirts.  The church will also accept brown paper grocery bags to help with distribution. Monetary donations will be used to purchase food and supplies at this link. For information, call 504-947-2121.

GNO disaster fund: The Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Response and Restoration Fund supports a network of voluntary and community organizations taking care of the elderly, the homeless and low-wage workers who are made more vulnerable by this pandemic. Donate here and Note “Disaster” in the “Specify the Fund” box.

St. Margaret’s Daughters Home residents: The residents at St. Margaret’s, a nursing facility in Mid-City, could use activity books (puzzles, art supplies and coloring books, etc.). Send them to: St. Margaret’s Daughters Home; Attn: Amy Sprout 3525 Bienville St.; New Orleans, LA 70119.  Also, they would love any handmade cards or handwritten notes. Lindsey Cave, a St. Margaret’s neighbor who is spearheading the effort, suggests putting the handmade items in the sun for a day to sterilize (St. Margaret’s staff will also sterilize on their end). To drop off items, call the main phone number (504-279-6414) when outside and someone will come out.

Diaper Bank: The Junior League of New Orleans buys diapers at a highly discounted rate and provides volunteer support for sorting, packing and distributing diapers. They are partnering with Second Harvest during the pandemic to distribute diapers and periods supplies to people in need. The group is seeking dollars for diapers.

List compiled by Sharon Lurye and Katherine Hart. Contact with changes or additions.