This holiday season, the Dennerral Shavers Educational Fund is dedicating its Operation Giveback outreach program to homeless veterans in New Orleans. Donations of money, food, toiletries and household items are being collected from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays through Friday, Dec. 19, at the UNITY of Greater New Orleans warehouse, 506 N. St. Patrick St.

Items will be distributed to veterans and other homeless people Saturday, Dec. 20. A meal will be served to the city’s homeless on Sunday, Dec. 28, under the Earhart Expressway at Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

The Dinerral Shavers Educational Fund is a nonprofit organization founded in March 2007 in honor Shavers, a murder victim who was a member of the iconic Hot 8 Brass Band, a New Orleans civil sheriff and band director at L.E. Rabouin High School. DSEF sponsors community programs and initiatives for young people, including a scholarship essay contest, school supply giveaways and college tours and fairs.

UNITY of Greater New Orleans is a nonprofit organization that provides housing and services to the city’s homeless. UNITY houses chronically homeless people in fully furnished apartments, but they lack necessities such as food, toiletries, clothes, cooking supplies and household items.

For information contact DSEF online at Donations can be mailed to DSEF at P.O. Box 6832, New Orleans, La 7014O.

Tea with Teddy and Santa

The Royal Sonesta’s grand ballroom will become a royal kingdom on Saturday, Dec. 13; Sunday, Dec. 14; and Friday, Dec. 19 through Monday, Dec. 22, for the annual Teddy Bear Tea experience. Tea times will be 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

As part of an initiative with Children’s Hospital, the official Royal Teddy Bear ornament will be available for $25, and all net proceeds will benefit the hospital. Those who attend the event are encouraged to bring an unwrapped gift for a girl or boy to be distribution on Christmas Eve at the hospital.

Children at the tea will be invited to meet the Sugarplum Fairy Princess, sing with Rudolph and Frosty, and dance with the royal teddy bear. New Orleans Saintsations cheerleaders will greet the children and herald the arrival of the Santa Claus.

Executive chef Kevin Goodwin and his culinary team will prepare a festive menu, and of course, there will be lots of tea, coffee and hot chocolate to sip while Mrs. Claus reads “The Night Before Christmas.”

Admission is $69 for adults and $49 for children. VIP admission is $85 for adults and $65 for children and includes a photo with Santa, a 2014 commemorative teacup and Champagne for adults. Photos with Santa will be taken before and after each tea time.

For reservations call the Royal Sonesta at (540) 553-2328. Seating is limited.

Women and the workplace

The Junior League of New Orleans has partnered with The Idea Village to present a series of talks about challenges women face in the workplace and ways to overcome them. The first talk, “How She Did It: Four Women Surviving and Thriving in Male-dominated Industries” is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 10, at JLNO headquarters, 4319 Carondelet St.

Panelists will be Kiki Baker Barnes, Dillard University athletic director; Dana Stumpf, CAO of Durr Heavy Construction; Amiee Quirk, economic development adviser for New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; and Suzanne Haik Terrell, a partner with Hangartner Rydberg and Terrell. To attend the free event, RSVP at

Christmas gala in Lake Vista

The St. Pius X Mothers’ Club and Men’s Club will sponsor its Christmas gala, “A Heavenly Evening” at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5, in the Father A.T. Screen Gymnasium on the campus of St. Pius church and school, 6600 Spanish Fort Blvd.

The gala will include a buffet, open bar, auctions, a $1,000 raffle and dancing to the music of the Benchwarmers. The gala will follow a patron party hosted at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy McCulla.

For tickets, call the school at (504) 282-2811. For information visit

Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at