About a month ago, I found my daughter working intently to complete an obviously very difficult homework assignment–except she wasn’t really “working” and it wasn’t homework at all. It was her Christmas list. I miss the days when she was not literate enough to write out a Christmas list. I long for the year when the only thing she asked for was a pencil (she got a lot more than that, but I was thrilled her wants were so simplistic and cheap). Now, before Christmas decorations have even gone up, before carols are even playing incessantly on 101.9, before our sleeveless shirts are all put away (who am I kidding…like sleeveless shirts ever get put away in this climate), my kids are focusing on filling their own stockings.
Seeing this sad phenomenon reminds me of a Christmas Eve sometimes in the early 90’s when my family and I volunteered serving a meal at a shelter in downtown New Orleans. As those in need piled into the room with smiles on their faces, grateful for the warm meal of which they were about to partake, you could feel the joy and warmth in the room. . . that is, except in one cold corner where my miserable tween self sat, with arms folded, pouting over the fact that I was relegated to handing out silverware rather than some more glamorous job befitting my status as a capable 11-year-old girl. I am ashamed to admit that I did not greet anyone with a smile or wish anyone a Merry Christmas. I just sat there grumbling until it was time to leave. Despite my selfish attitude, that memory of serving together with my family left an indelible mark on me. Now I have the misfortune of trying desperately to get my own tween and her younger siblings to focus on the true meaning of the holidays–to think less of ourselves, our wishes, and our lists–and to focus on the many ways we can serve others.
On that note, I bring to you a list of some of the many great places on the Northshore that will welcome families who are looking to serve together. All it takes is a phone call to set up a time.
This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you know of other organizations please mention them in the comments! And if you do volunteer with your family, please send us a picture so we can post it on our website to recognize your great service to our community (if your kids are anything like mine, they may be very motivated by seeing their faces in print 😊).
Family Volunteer Opportunities in Mandeville
Children’s Rehab and Therapy
North of I-12 off of Highway 59
Contact 985-400-4788 or email [email protected]
Volunteers assist children with disabilities who are participating in horseback riding therapy. They ask that you sign up for one session per month. Sessions are Friday afternoons from 3-6PM. Volunteers must be 14+. Wonderful for high schoolers considering careers in medicine, nursing, or physical therapy.
The Samaritan Center
402 Girod Street
Contact: Cindy at 985-626-4457
-Opportunities at food bank and at Gran’s attic (next door) to help with getting food pantry or other donated items organized.
-Finding out what food is needed and organizing your own food drive through school or neighborhood and personally deliver it.
-Help with the vegetable garden maintenance to provide fresh produce to those in need.
-Assist with preparations for the annual “Back to School” or “Thanksgiving basket” programs.
Note: Hours typically overlap with school hours but volunteer opportunities are also available during holidays and summer break.
Habitat for Humanity
1400 North Lane
Contact: Jenny Tresvik at [email protected] or 985-893-3172×221
-Greet volunteers on site and cook/serve breakfast/lunch.
-Write and decorate thank you notes to be mailed to our volunteers.
-Purchase a picnic table kit from Lowe’s or Home Depot and assemble/decorate for a family that has just purchased their Habitat home.
-Ages 14 and older can volunteer to work at the Habitat ReStore and ages 16 and up can volunteer to do construction work.
Keep Mandeville Beautiful
1100 Mandeville High Blvd.
-Participate in Adopt-A-Spot to keep a certain area clean.
-Help with citywide cleanups in April and September.
-Plant or maintain a Keep Mandeville Beautiful garden.
Windsor Senior Living Community
1770 N Causeway Blvd.
Contact: Lylln Brinkman
-Help with administrative tasks such as picture albums or newsletters.
-Assist with decorating, setting up for or serving at occasional and seasonal events (grandparents day, Mardi Gras, Bingo, Friday afternoon happy hour, etc).
-Visit with residents while making and distributing crafts.
Family Volunteer Opportunities in Covington
Northshore Food Bank
840 N. Columbia Street
Contact: Ginger at 985-327-0044
-On site volunteers are required to be 12-15 if accompanied by an adult, or 16 and older without adult.
-Younger children can organize their own neighborhood or school food drive, deliver the food themselves, and get a tour of the facility to see how their donations will be put to use.
The Miracle League Northshore
Games are held at Coquille Playground in Covington
Contact: Noble-Bates Young at [email protected] or 601-431-0696
-Families are invited to make a longer-term commitment to become a buddy for a child with special needs. The commitment lasts throughout each sports season, averaging 8 weeks. You are paired with a buddy with special needs to help each player fully participate in the sport.
St. Tammany Humane Society
20384 Harrison Ave.
Contact: Ashleigh D’Addezio at [email protected] or 985-892-7387
-Be a “Canine Cabbie” where you can come “Give a Rescue Dog a Ride.” Volunteers pick up a dog to take out on the town (for a walk on the Trace, bring for a free “Pup-a-ccino” at Starbucks, etc). This gives the dogs a needed break from shelter life and has also helped many of the dogs get adopted.
– Raise money, make crate blankets or catnip toys, or educate yourself or others.
Note: Any participants in Canine Cabbies must have a parent or adult who attends a training and orientation and signs a waiver to allow minors to be in contact with the dog. Other on-site programs require application, orientation, training for adults or kids 12 and older. They also offer educational tours by appointment.
Forest Manor Nursing Home
71338 Hwy 21 South
Contact: Juette at 985-892-6900
-Families are welcome to come serve meals and visit with residents.
Family Volunteer Opportunities in Slidell
Community Christian Concern
2515 Carey Street
Contact: Debbie at 985-646-0357
-Stock food pantry shelves.
-Sort and organize clothing at their store.
-Work in the vegetable and butterfly garden to grow fresh produce for healthier meals.
Note: You will need to fill out an application and set up an appointment.
Slidell Ladies for Liberty
100 Mission Drive
-Help with packing days, welcome home luncheons and fundraisers.
-Collect items to send to troops and decorate cards or boxes.
Family Volunteer Opportunities in Lacombe
Lacombe Nursing Center
28119 Hwy 190
Contact: Recinda at 985-882-5417
-Residents participate in daily activities such as bingo and crafts and families are welcome during the week or on Saturdays to join in the fun!
Family Volunteer Opportunities in Folsom
New Heights Therapy Center (Offers therapeutic horseback riding for those with physical, cognitive, and emotional difficulties)
82302 Holliday Road
-A volunteer can help in many ways, such as leading, sidewalking, being a spotter, grooming, and exercising horses. No horse experience is necessary. All volunteers are required to attend a training session before being scheduled for classes. Then, we will schedule you according to our need and your availability.
Note: Volunteers must be 14 or older.
Ideas for Volunteering as a Family that can be Done Anywhere
There are also plenty of service opportunities you can do on your own such as:
-Organize your own food drive at your school or in your neighborhood.
-Go door to door in your neighborhood to collect coats for kids.
-Run your own lemonade stand or bingo fundraiser.
-Collect donations of money or items in lieu of birthday gifts to donate to your favorite charity.
-Participate in collections of items by international groups such as Treats for Troops or Samaritan’s Purse.
-Adopt a child from the “Giving Tree” at your local church, mall, gym, etc.
-Deliver thank you gifts, treats or cards to your local police or fire station.
This post is part of our guide to Thanksgiving on the Northshore. Please check out our entire guide if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for!