What the Hornets do for New Orleans

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Published: October 15, 2008

Today is Blog Action Day, “an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.”

The issue this year is Poverty, and we here at Hornets247 decided to take part. We’ll take a look at poverty in New Orleans, how the Hornets help in the community, and what you can do to make a difference.

Poor and homeless in New Orleans

Poverty in the heart of New Orleans – Claiborne Avenue, beneath the I-10 overpass (just six blocks from the French Quarter)

Poverty and homelessness are issues in every US city, but New Orleans has it pretty bad. Hurricane Katrina didn’t do anything to help the situation, costing many people their homes and possessions, leaving them little option but to live on the streets. In 2007, 14.8% of people in the Greater New Orleans area were considered to be living below the poverty level, including 20.8% of all those under 18 years of age (source). Last March, USA Today reported that the homeless rate in New Orleans had “reached unprecedented levels for a U.S. city: one in 25 residents.”

Thankfully, this city has a lot of people and organizations who care about the less fortunate, and they strive relentlessly to make New Orleans a better place for everybody. The Hornets are one such organization. The following was contributed by Brittany Cranston, Internal Communications Manager for the Hornets…

The Hornets have an extremely strong Community Investment group whose main focus is to execute the organization’s community goals, ensuring the Hornets are a visible piece of the fabric of the New Orleans community.  This group is responsible for coordinating all Bookmobile appearances, donation requests, planning the franchise’s overall community initiatives, working directly with the players’ foundations and community efforts and scheduling and implementing all Hornets community appearances (dedications, ribbon-cuttings, food drops, etc.).

Following the Shinn family’s ideals, giving back to the New Orleans community is one of the most important pieces of the Hornets organization.  The entire Hornets family—players, executives and front office staff—understand the importance of donating time, energy and resources into revitalizing our beautiful city. While financial support and assistance is an important piece to giving back, the Hornets understand that giving one’s time can have more of a positive impact on someone’s life.  Our community initiatives are all about connecting with the people of New Orleans—we see a need, and we are blessed to be in a situation where we can help resolve it.  It is not only our responsibility to the city to invest in its future, but it is also something we love to do.  Giving back unites people together for a common goal.  Sometimes I feel like our staff members who participate in one of our community projects actually take away more from that experience than the neighbors we are trying to assist.

Here’s just a small sampling of the Hornets’ community activities in the past year…

  • Hurricane Gustav Relief Efforts (Sept. 2008) – To assist with relief efforts following Hurricane Gustav, the Hornets partnered with the Salvation Army on Sept. 10 in Houma and on Sept. 11 in Galliano to serve hot meals and provide food and other supplies to local residents in need. On Sept. 12, the team partnered with Feed the Children to provide 400 local New Orleans families with food and personal care items. 
  • Hilton Armstrong Donation (October 2007) – Hilton Armstrong made a $10,000 contribution to the Girls and Boys Town of New Orleans to help kids purchase new clothing.
  • Family/Community Resource Center Dedication (January 2008) – Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade teamed up to remodel a Family and Community Resource Center at a New Orleans school by donating $10,000 to add computers and other resources.
  • Bookmobile – In conjunction with Read to Achieve, the Hornets created a life-size Bookmobile bus that travels year-round with over 2,000 children’s books to encourage reading and literacy. During the 2007-08 season, the Bookmobile made 73 total appearances, passing out more than 35,000 books to local children.
  • Rasual Butler Wellness Drive (February 2008) – Fans were encouraged to donate personal wellness items such as soaps, shampoo and other toiletry items for Rasual’s drive to donate to youth organizations in South Africa.
  • Playground Builds/Refurbishments – The Hornets have helped build or refurbish four playgrounds in the past year, most recently Evans Playground on Sept. 23.
  • Top Hats and High Tops Gala (March 2008) – This annual fundraising gala was held at Audubon Tea Room and raised more than $163,000 for local charities through live and silent auctions. 
  • Second Harvest Food Drive (April 2008) – Fans were encouraged to donate five canned food items prior to the Hornets vs. Warriors game in exchange for a Chris Paul youth jersey. Donations exceeded 6,000 pounds which provided more than 4,700 meals to hungry residents, making it one of the most successful food drives at a professional sporting event in Second Harvest history.
  • Feed the Children Food Drop (December 2007) – Jannero Pargo, Peja Stojakovic, Melvin Ely and Ryan Bowen provided 400 families in New Orleans with meals and personal care items.
  • Hoops for Homes – This is one of the biggest projects the Hornets are involved in, teaming with Habitat for Humanity to build 11 homes so far in the New Orleans community. There’s also a Teacher’s Initiative, which helps provide “stop gap” funding to local teachers who lack adequate funds to complete repairs on their hurricane-ravaged homes. To date, Hoops for Homes has raised approximately $1.2 million for rebuilding efforts.

Like I said, that’s just a small sampling. I could go on and on and on to mention stuff like refurbished playgrounds, bike giveaways, holiday shopping sprees for underprivileged kids, free thanksgiving dinner for hundreds of people, basketball clinics, prom dress drives, hospital visits, and of course the countless charitable events that the Hornets and the NBA were involved in for All-Star weekend back in February. It’s an incredible amount of community service and involvement.

Hopefully you’re reading all this and thinking two things: “Man, the Hornets really do a bunch of good work in the community” and “What can I do to help?” Well, there’s lots you can do. Just living here and spending your money locally is a good start. There’s also plenty of opportunities to volunteer your time and skills to organizations like the several listed at the end of this post. Check out their sites and see what they do. If you don’t live in New Orleans, you could always send a donation, or just help out in your own community. You’re sure to find poverty not too far from you, and it doesn’t take much to make a positive difference.

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Also be sure to check out more bloggers discussing poverty today via the Blog Action Day website.

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