8. Touching and generous acts of kindness. Before we even had a chance to formally create a charity to raise money for employees losing their jobs, restaurateurs, bar owners, and shop owners called, asking how they could help. State legislators joined with philanthropic activists and business leaders to underwrite production of 1,500 “Save the Picayune” signs that then dotted lawns throughout the region. A night club, restaurants, artisans, a supermarket, musicians, a design firm, rental companies, and the Cleveland Scene of New Orleans contributed or subsidized venues, food, drink, entertainment, linens, illustrations, ads, and auction items for a fundraiser/commemoration of the daily newspaper. Newspaper alumni flew in from 10 states spanning from Hawaii to New York to attend the event and show their support. Anderson Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres, Hoda Kotb of The Today Show, and dozens of other national celebrities, news organizations, and ordinary people donated experiences and items for the auction. Retirees and employees losing their jobs joined with newspaper subscribers in contributing literally thousands of dollars to those losing their jobs.
Not a man predisposed to idle hyperbole, Nolan, the newspaper’s former religion editor, characterized the outpouring of support as “the most astonishing thing I’ve ever seen.” He wasn’t alone in his amazement.