Places to Volunteer in New Orleans During the Holidays

The old adage tells us that “it’s better to give than to receive.” We think this applies not only to gifts, but also your time. The greater New Orleans area is a vibrant community, but it also has a lot of people and organizations in need, especially during this time of the year. That’s why we’ve put together a list of places where you can volunteer during the holidays – perhaps you can make it a new tradition with your friends and family!

Animal Rescue New Orleans Shelter

This no-kill shelter in Elmwood is always looking for volunteers to help with laundry, animal care, dog walking, and more. Volunteering at this shelter counts toward school service hours. You also can donate directly to ARNO as part of our December pet drive.

The Roots of Music

roots of music

The Roots of Music is one of several organizations in New Orleans that depends on the work of volunteers. (Photo courtesy: The Roots of Music on Facebook)

This organization ties music directly to empowerment for at-risk youth in the New Orleans community. Providing music education, academic support, and mentorship are just a few tenants of The Roots of Music, all while preserving the musical and cultural heritage of New Orleans. Volunteers can help participating students with homework, projects, and test review – no experience is necessary, and you’ll directly aid a child in becoming their most positive, productive self.

Grow Dat Youth Farm

Creating job opportunities and professional development for high school students and youth interested in urban agriculture, Grow Dat Youth Farm is a fully functioning farm in City Park that produces organic fruits and vegetables through sustainable farming techniques. The farm also relies on volunteers to help keep its grounds in tip-top shape – get out into the sunshine and put your hands to work with tasks like weeding, crop maintenance, and more.

There are many other worthy organizations in the area where you can volunteer. HandsOn New Orleans provides a detailed database of causes that might interest you based on distance, keywords, dates, and whether you’re volunteering as an individual or on behalf of a corporation. No matter what your passion, there is a volunteer opportunity available!

Donate to the Metro Center for Women and Children at 1st Lake Properties

In addition to our pet drive benefiting Animal Rescue New Orleans, 1st Lake Properties is also holding a donation drive in conjunction with the Apartment Association of Greater New Orleans to bring awareness and aid to the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. This organization, a transitional shelter for domestic violence victims, provides immediate assistance to people in our community who have suffered violence and abuse.

School Supplies

School supplies like spiral notebooks, pencils, and backpacks are a few of the many needed items at the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. Donate at 1st Lake Properties today! (Photo courtesy MyTudut on Flickr)

Beyond sheltering victims, the center also provides individual and group counseling for survivors of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, and sexual assault. Additional programs geared toward children, legal advocacy, and community outreach have positioned the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children as a comprehensive source for those in need.

We believe this organization empowers not only victims of domestic violence, but also our greater New Orleans community. Through education and awareness, we can become more empowered citizens and help our fellow neighbors stay safe and healthy. Here’s how to help:

Tax-Deductible Donations

The center accepts donations like clothing, personal care items, household items, cash and gift cards, and food from individuals and corporations. Metropolitan Center is a qualified charitable organization, so all donations are tax deductible.

What the Center Needs Most

Take a look at the items the center needs to provide care and quality of life to its residents.

For Kids

  • Children’s clothing for school uniforms (khaki and navy blue shorts or pants; white, red, or navy polo shirts)
  • New underwear for boys and girls, all sizes
  • New or gently used clothes, all sizes
  • Small umbrellas
  • Youth-size ponchos

For Teens

  • Jewelry boxes
  • Makeup
  • Portable CD players
  • Radios with CD players
  • Gift cards for clothing, bath products, music, and perfume

For Adults

  • New make-up products like lipstick, powder, and foundation
  • Curling irons
  • Blow dryers
  • New or gently used adult clothes
  • New underwear and hosiery
  • New robes, nightgowns, and slippers

For the Shelter

  • Single and full-size sheet sets
  • Pillow cases
  • New bed pillows
  • Baby beds, sheets, and blankets
  • Wheelchairs
  • Fold-away beds
  • Gift certificates to fill prescriptions (for pharmacies like Walgreen’s, Target, or CVS)

School Supplies

  • Book bags and backpacks
  • Black marble composition books
  • Spiral notebooks
  • Black and red pens
  • Pencils
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Three-prong folders with pockets

Art Supplies

  • Play-Doh
  • Water colors
  • Colored pencils
  • Pens
  • Yarn
  • String


  • Sketch and coloring boks
  • Action heroes
  • DVDs (child-appropriate)
  • Board games
  • Dress-up sets
  • Toy cooking sets
  • Educational games and toys
  • Dolls

The Metropolitan Center for Women and Children has a 24-hour crisis line for the Greater New Orleans area at 504-837-5400, toll free 1-888-411-1333, or via link 211.  You can fax at 504-828-2893 or email

December 2014 Apartment Specials at 1st Lake Properties

The holidays are usually a time of spending, not saving. Fortunately, 1st Lake Properties is here to help. Our December specials offer great deals at many of our communities throughout Louisiana and Mississippi. Regency Club in Baton Rouge is offering $50 rate reductions, while Sugar Mill West in Kenner is enticing future residents with up to $175 off moving costs. You’ll find even more reductions, too – check out all of our December specials below!

turtle creek

Turtle Creek’s ongoing renovation celebration also features special deals for the month of December.

Turtle Creek – Interested in a studio? One week of free rent will lure you to Turtle Creek in Metairie. All apartments will soon have a washer/dryer and added flex space as part of an ongoing renovation celebration!

Lakes of Chateau Estates South – Call now to find out about our reduced rates on select apartments at this Kenner community. We’re also offering reduced move-in costs – not to mention amenities like a putting green and private lake perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.

Sawmill Creek – Sawmill Creek could garner you up to $675 in holiday savings! You’ll receive $175 off move-in costs, two weeks off rent, and reduced overall rent rates in select units. Located in River Ridge, LA, this community feels like home thanks to vaulted ceilings, wooded landscaping, and even fireplaces.

Arbor Gate – This month’s special for Arbor Gate – a $99 deposit and reduced rates – provides you with unbeatable deals on thoughtful amenities like a state-of-the-art fitness center and tranquil green space. In Picayune, MS, this community balances urban perks with beautifully landscaped grounds.

Citrus Creek West – Metairie and Downtown New Orleans are both easily accessible to Citrus Creek West, and you’ll experience the peace and quiet of life just outside a major metropolis. Schedule a personal tour of this gated community that includes amenities like gourmet kitchens and fireplaces.

Regency Club – December calls for rent reductions at Regency Club in Baton Rouge, LA. You’ll find up to $50 rate reductions plus up to 1/2 month free rent on select units. Perks like a sand volleyball court and tennis court will help you stick to your healthy New Year’s Resolutions.

Brewster Commons at River Chase – Get up to 1/2 month free on select apartments at this Covington, LA property. You’ll also find reduced rents on select units, which could save you $600 or more. Granite countertops and wood-finish floorings create a sense of luxury at this Northshore community.

Sugar Mill West – Select apartments are offering savings of up to $175 off move-in costs. Expect all the modern luxuries at this Kenner community: you’ll find gourmet kitchens, updated appliances, and a washer/dryer in every apartment.

Help Local Animals in Need with Our Pet Drive Benefiting ARNO Shelter

During the holidays, one of the greatest gifts we can give is helping others in need. That’s why 1st Lake Properties is hosting a pet drive benefiting Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) in Elmwood. This no-kill shelter provides comprehensive care to stray and abandoned animals, providing a safe haven while also meeting each animal’s medical and nutritional needs.

We appreciate the hard work ARNO provides for our community each day – but they can’t do it alone. ARNO is in need, and we’d like all of our residents and friends to consider helping. Here are a few ways you can participate in our pet drive, which kicks off today and runs through Dec. 31:

Vega is one of several adoptable animals at Animal Rescue New Orleans. (Photo: ARNO on Facebook)

Adopt an Animal from ARNO

The shelter has many eligible animals who would make loving pets and lifelong pals for local residents. For example, Woodstock, a cat with beautiful markings, is a sweet soul looking for a forever home, and so is Sugar, a tiny adult pup with personality.

You also can foster animals on a temporary basis – this is a great option to test drive life with a new pet while also helping to alleviate the burden of the shelter.  Take a look at our recent post on animal adoption, or visit ARNO’s website for more information. Not ready to adopt or foster? You can…

Donate Your Time

ARNO is looking for volunteers who can assist in animal care, dog walking, kennel and cage cleaning, playing with cats and kittens, and helping with laundry. Volunteering is a great way to spend the weekend with friends and family, especially during the holidays. Plus, volunteering at ARNO counts toward school service hours. If you truly can’t spare the time, no worries. You can…

Donate Goods

In addition to monetary donations and gift cards to Wal-Mart, Petsmart, and Petco, the shelter needs specific goods to help their operations run smoothly and provide the highest quality care for its animals. For dogs, ARNO needs Purina One Dog Chow and Puppy Chow, canned dog food, and four-foot-long leashes. Similarly, their feline residents need Purina One Cat and Kitten Chow in addition to large-size litter pans. Sponges and heavy-duty trash bags (also known as contractor bags) are also items in need at ARNO.

We urge you to make a difference in the lives of animals by participating in this drive. Simply drop off your donations at any 1st Lake office from Dec. 15 through Dec. 31. We look forward to seeing what you bring in!


Holiday Decorating for a Small Space

‘Tis the season to liven up your decor, but sometimes a small space can present challenges you may not face in a traditional house. Check out our dos and don’ts for decorating a small space for the winter holidays.

Celebrate Christmas in New Orleans

Do think miniature. A 20-foot tree works for the White House, but a grandiose fir can be unrealistic when decorating a small space. Stores like Whole Foods and The Home Depot offer fresh, beautiful mini trees that have the look, feel, and smell of their larger counterparts. The trees might be small, but their benefits are enormous: they’re easier to transport (both to your home and out to the dumpster after the season), they’re cheaper to purchase, and they only have room for your most special ornaments.

Don’t let your festive dishware stay hidden. You probably have some fun holiday dishware at the back of your cupboard – maybe a themed mug or a set of dessert plates. Why not let these dishes take center stage during the holiday season? Fill a festive mug with fresh, white flowers for a wintry look for your desk or kitchen counter, or use holiday dessert plates as a tray for simple ornaments to create a festive display.

Don’t wait to wrap gifts. The winter season is often a time of giving, but we are quick to consider gift wrapping a chore. Instead, make a plan to wrap presents early, then place them around your apartment for a fun and festive look.

Do dress up your dining chairs. Whether you’re using them in the dining room or a non-traditional space like the bedroom or bathroom, dining chairs can benefit from a bit of holiday pizzazz. Tie wide ribbons to the backs of the chairs and suspend small, lightweight ornaments at the bottom. You can also hang pinecones from the back using this tutorial.


Wrap your presents in advance and place them around your apartment for a festive atmosphere. (Photo courtesy JD Hancock on Flickr)

Don’t forget about easy decorating opportunities. Coat racks, doorknobs, towel hooks, and any other hanging place can become a home for a wreath, festive scarf, ornaments, or other holiday items as part of your décor.

Do consider old-school crafts. Remember when you made paper snowflakes as a kid? Believe it or not, they can look incredibly chic and take up very little space. Place them in windows where they’ll catch the light and cast dancing shadows. Other space-friendly favorites include cranberry garlands (use dental floss!), tinsel stars, and fragrant citrus pomanders.

Don’t get hung up on what the holidays “should” look like. Who says you need a real tree or decorations galore? Displaying sentimental pieces or even a simple strand of lights over your doorway can bring festive cheer when decorating a small space. Plus, the fewer items you put out, the less there is to clean up after the holidays!


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