“If you love New Orleans, it will love you back.” This was future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees’s message when he first arrived in New Orleans, and what he passed along to Pelicans star Zion Williamson.
Allen Keller, a Louisiana native and fan of the New Orleans Saints, loves New Orleans, and because he feels the city has loved him back, he’s taken the opportunity to give back to the Saints community.
The New Orleans Saints tailgate scene may not be what you would find in Green Bay, or Chicago, or Buffalo, but there is truly something special and “New Orleans” about what takes place on the streets outside of the stadium before each Saints home game. You might not find tens of thousands of fans set up in a giant parking lot with cornhole boards and folding tables, but you will probably find Allen Keller and hundreds of fans and volunteers out to give back to the homeless.
Keller’s mission, now called “#TailgateTogether,” has started to gain more and more publicity in the community of late, where Keller, along with the assistance of other friends and volunteers, incorporates tailgating into feeding the homeless.
“It started from Saints tailgates. We’d have a ton of food leftover, so we’d bring that out to the homeless,” Keller said. “But the thought of giving the homeless our leftovers didn’t feel right to me. So we started cooking the homeless their own separate, fresh meal.”
This might make it sound like the tailgating scene around Allen Keller and the #TailgateTogether group would be somber or depressing. You couldn’t be more wrong.
Allen has explained what happens at the tailgate:
“Me and a few friends cook. We set up televisions, music, and a buffet-style food operation. The crowd is usually well over 100 people.” Allen added, “Attendees usually chip in a donation to keep it going for every home game and also help us to continue feeding the homeless.”
Too often, an individual, entity, or organization takes part in a charity event and it seems like that motivation isn’t necessarily about actually giving back to the community, but for the positive attention the individual receives for the act of giving back. That’s not Allen.
We'll never record or take pics serving the homeless. That's always been our thing; anonymity and dignity. Here's a snippet of @OnPoint_El setting the tone though. I love it. Literally, #TailgateTogether. pic.twitter.com/x3x2p4plSl— Allen K. (@AllenK_81) June 6, 2021
He quietly went about these tailgates each Sunday, trying to make it a point to stay away from the spotlight and make sure the focus wasn’t on him. “I quietly did it for years, and was okay with that. Then I realized I would get more resources for the homeless by sharing what I do. Then it took off.”
Even now, when I directly asked Allen to take a bit of credit for all of good work he has done in the New Orleans community, he instead emphasized that #TailgateTogether is a group effort, and he asked for special shout-outs for all of the people who help make #TailgateTogether possible: Chris Bonneé (@7SeventhWard7), El Williams (@OnPoint_El), Marilyn Sauls (@marimotxla), Donna Dawson (@OverACheatah), Kateria Lee (@Kats_Meeooww), Ryne Hancock (@TheRHancock19), and Katherine Seals (@KatherineNOLA).
If you want to join in on the #TailgateTogether experience, then you can find Allen at his usual spot near the corners of Loyola Avenue and Perdido Street. If you’re coming in from out of town, Allen’s spot is one block behind the Dave & Buster’s on Poydras, and there’s a parking garage connected to the Dave & Buster’s which usually has available parking (for a fee). You can come tailgate together, and forego the “typical” NFL tailgate scene for a chance to share good food, cold drinks, and make new friends, all while helping out a good cause. There’s not a tailgate outside of what Allen is doing in New Orleans where you can find people saying, through tears, things like “This is better than Christmas” or “Y’all were sent from Heaven.”
If you can’t make it to the tailgate but you are still interested in helping, please consider Allen’s Amazon wishlist, or making a monetary donation for home-cooked meals. You can make donations directly to Allen for #TailgateTogether via:
If you love New Orleans, it will love you back. If you love New Orleans, and you love the Saints, consider giving back yourself to #TailgateTogether. See you at the tailgate!
Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, on Instagram @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. You can also follow Allen on Twitter at @AllenK_81.