It’s natural for kids to want to play in the water when it gets hot. That’s why it’s so important to teach them to be safe around it.

The Ashley Marie Kelly Swim Program, in partnership with the American Red Cross, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and Tulane University, provides a week of free daily lessons in swimming and water safety at the Tulane University Reily Student Recreation Center, starting Monday.

The lessons are open to anyone 5 or older. The pool is on the McAlister Extension off Willow Street.

Registration is now open; class sizes are limited.

The lessons were created by Lotoya Kelly in honor of her sister, Ashley Marie Kelly, who drowned in Lake Pontchartrain in summer 2003.

For more information, contact JoAnn Burke, education coordinator with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, at (504) 836-2238.

Stamp Out Hunger

Here’s an easy way for residents of Orleans and Jefferson parishes to help the hungry.

Just pack a few cans or jars of nonperishable food in a sturdy bag and leave them near your mailbox on Saturday. Letter carriers will collect them to be delivered to Second Harvest Food Bank.

The “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive is the largest one-day food drive in the nation, according to Second Harvest.

Summer is a slow time for food donations, but meanwhile thousands of children are without school lunches. The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive helps stock the shelves at Second Harvest Food Bank and its member agencies just in time for the summer.

Looking for volunteers

Speaking of Second Harvest: The warehouse and kitchen facility in Elmwood is looking for volunteers to help with its summer feeding program.

Terri Kaupp, communications director, said volunteers 16 and older can work alongside kitchen staff to assist with food preparation, meal packaging, washing dishes and other kitchen duties. Early risers who can be at the kitchen, 700 Edwards Ave., from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. would be especially welcome.

The kitchen prepares and sends out thousands of meals for kids and seniors.

This could be a great way for high school students to take care of some of those service hours needed for graduation. Call (504) 729-2834 for more information.

Mentorfest is Saturday

Finally, New Orleans Kids Partnership will sponsor the annual Mentorfest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Lawrence Square Park, Napoleon Avenue and Magazine Street. Food and drinks will be available and the 610 Stompers will show off some moves.

Representatives from local organizations that tutor children, build job skills and help teens prepare for college will be on hand to share information. Their goal is to recruit 200 new volunteer mentors and tutors for the 2013-14 school year.

For more information, go to

Annette Sisco is community news editor. She can be reached at (504) 432-9257 or