Volunteers of America’s Caring Gifts

In Community, Tricia Jowellby Lola Magazine

30 years ago, Volunteers of America began its holiday campaign to raise money and provide services to the most vulnerable in our community.  

They’re known as…Caring Gifts.

What if you could buy all of your family and friends a Christmas present, have someone else mail it to them and give a meaningful donation to help those in need in our community all at the same time? 

Well, Volunteers of America North Louisiana has made your Christmas dreams come true by allowing you to do just that. Since 1989, North Louisianans have spread Christmas joy through Caring Gifts by making a donation to support the life-changing work of Volunteers of America. In return, Volunteers of America sends a beautiful, hand-wrapped angel to everyone on your mailing list. Plus, they learn how the donation you made in their name will benefit thousands of lives throughout the year, including children and families, veterans, seniors and people with disabilities. 

Mi’Quesha is just one of those. 

Born and raised in the Highlands neighborhood, Mi’Quesha began attending the Volunteers of America’s LightHouse, a free after-school and summer program, in eighth grade. As middle school is for most children, this was such a pivotal time in her life. She struggled with confidence, academics and motivation. 

The LightHouse gave M’Quesha a safe place to go every day after school with people who supported and believed in her and the opportunity to tap into her creative side – to believe in herself. 

While still in high school, Mi’Quesha spoke about the LightHouse at a South Highlands neighborhood holiday party. She mentioned that she hoped to go into fashion design.

Listening to Mi’Quesha’s story was Knox Goodman, owner of Knox Goodman’s Boutique, a retail clothing and accessory store that closed its doors after more than 30 years in Shreveport. Mi’Quesha didn’t know it then, but that meeting was the opportunity of a lifetime. 

“When I first met her, I thought I’d go for a couple of days to learn how they work,” Mi’Quesha said. “But she actually assigned me days to come work, and the staff would take turn picking me up.” Mi’Quesha worked at the Boutique for a couple years, and after she graduated from high school, she followed Knox to work at Imelda’s as a way to continue her professional growth. 

Today, Mi’Quesha is the Sales Lead Manager at New York & Co. located inside the St. Vincent Mall and a freelance model in Shreveport. She considers Knox her “lifelong friend and mentor.” 

Mi’Quesha is just one of many students who have greatly benefitted from the work of Volunteers of America and our LightHouse program, which is also celebrating 30 years of serving children and families in Shreveport-Bossier this year. 

For one child, like Mi’Quesha, to experience the LightHouse program, it costs around $2,500 a year. That’s why the unique holiday campaign, Caring Gifts, is so important to Volunteers of America’s ministry of service.

Caring Gifts is just one of two times a year Volunteers of America invites the community to invest in its work to close the fiscal year gap, the difference between what it costs to operate our programs and services and what we receive from government funding. This year, the organization must raise $2.35 million.

Last year, Volunteers of America provided over 40 programs serving over 7,600 individuals in need, ranging from the young to the elderly. While the organization first began in 1935 as a shelter off Texas Avenue for women and children, its mission was, and remains, to reach and uplift all people bringing them to the knowledge and service of God. 

As we celebrate 30 years of Caring Gifts, we know each gift brings hope and love to not only those who find their way to Volunteers of America, like Mi’Quesha, but also to those who receive an angel in the mail. 

I hope you will consider joining our Caring Gifts campaign this year and start a new holiday tradition! Together, we can change our community – one gift at a time.

How does Caring Gifts work?

For 30 years, North Louisiana has spread holiday joy through Caring Gifts. This Christmas season, you can honor your family and friends by donating to Volunteers of America. In return, Volunteers of America sends a beautiful, hand-wrapped angel to all those on your holiday shopping list letting every recipient know that a donation has been given in their honor and it will greatly benefit thousands of those who find their way to Volunteers of America this year, including children and families, veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities. 

How to make a Caring Gifts donation:

  • Visit our website and fill out a Caring Gifts donation form.
  • Mail a check payable to Volunteers of America North Louisiana, Attn: Lisa Brandeburg 360 Jordan Street, Shreveport, Louisiana 71101.
  • Fax to 318-300-1979 Volunteers of America North Louisiana, Attn: Debbie Swinford. 
  • Donate by phone and call Veronica Tasche at 318-221-2669, ext. 233 with your credit card information. 
  • Watch us on TV! This year, we are proud to celebrate 30 years of Caring Gifts in partnership with KTBS 3.