• The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is gearing up to provide free, IRS-certified tax return preparation for Lowcountry residents.

VITA, a collaboration with the IRS, Beaufort County Human Services Alliance and United Way of the Lowcountry (UWLC), will kick off its popular tax filing support program beginning the first week in February and continuing through April 10.

The Bluffton Branch Library, 120 Palmetto Parkway, is the only location in Bluffton; and the Deep Well Project, 80 Capital Drive, is the only site on Hilton Head Island. Other locations are open in Jasper, Hampton and Northern Beaufort counties.

Staffed by local volunteers, VITA provides free preparation and electronic filing of income tax returns for individuals and families with low-to-moderate incomes who are eligible for tax credits. Last tax season, VITA helped file more than 2,400 free tax returns in Beaufort and Jasper counties – generating more than $4 million in economic impact.

Taxpayers eligible for VITA services include people with annual incomes of less than $57,000; anyone with a physical disability; non-English-speaking citizens; and people older than 60. In addition to electronic filing for quick deposit of returns, VITA volunteers can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and credit for the elderly or the disabled.

Masks will be required at all locations, and COVID-19 health and safety precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of illness.

For more information about VITA services, site locations, dates, times and required documents, visit vitalowcountry.org.

• The Maye River Quilters will meet Feb. 5 at the Church of the Palms, 1419 Okatie Hwy.

The meeting will start at 10 a.m. The wearing of masks is encouraged.

For more meeting dates and times, and for membership forms to join the group, call 843-530-1244.

To attend the meeting as a guest, send an RSVP email to mayeriverquilters@gmail.com. 

• The Christian Women’s Connection will host its next gathering, themed Celebrate Enduring Love, Feb. 16 beginning at 11 a.m. at Hampton Hall Club House. 

The luncheon program features Karen Gilmour’s “A Love Story Retold” and Aunt Laurie’s Gift Baskets along with Trapper the Wonder Dog, which supports job training and assistance to disabled.

Music is provided by vocalist Laurie Haddock on Hampton Hall.

Cost of the luncheon is $28 and must be prepaid by Feb. 9. Make checks payable to CWC Bluffton and mail care of Carol Mock, 607 Argent Way, Bluffton, SC 29909. 

For more information, call Mock at 843-705-7604 or Julie Ott at  602-750-5465 or Julie.ott.az@gmail.com.

• Registration is open for the Sporting Clays Shoot to be held March 11 for the benefit of Pockets Full of Sunshine.

Proceeds from the event will help grow the nonprofit organization, which creates vocational and social opportunities for adults with disabilities and engages them in the greater Hilton Head Island/Bluffton communities. 

The event, which sold out in 2021, is open to shooters of all abilities.  Early registration is suggested. Sponsorship opportunities are available and appreciated.

Register at pocketsfullofsun.org, or contact Carol Bartholomew at 843-384-1315.

• The Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival will return Feb. 21-27, offering a weeklong experience with celebrity chefs, local chefs, local seafood, artisans, musicians and more at various venues on the island.

Events include the Celebrity Chef Dinner Feb. 24, master classes, “Secrets of a Pitmaster,” a Pig Pickin’ and Oyster Roast, and fireworks.

The headliner event, the 15th annual Seafood Festival, will be held at Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina Feb. 26 from 1 to 4:30 p.m., featuring nearly 100 food, beverage and artisan booths, with wine, beer and spirits tastings. Celebrity chefs and cookbook authors will provide demonstrations.

For more information and tickets, visit hiltonheadseafoodfestival.com.

Calhoun Station Thrift Store has reopened after six months. Significant renovations to the interior of the store are now complete, with new paint and merchandise organization.

The all-volunteer run thrift store supports nonprofit programs throughout Bluffton.  Any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization can apply for funding by completing an application.

Since it was founded in 1989, Calhoun Station Thrift Store has donated more than $1.5 million to help improve social services for Bluffton residents.

Completely supported by donations and volunteers, Calhoun Station is continuously looking for volunteers to help the mission and vision of the organization.

Donations are accepted during store hours Wednesday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The store is located at 77 Prichard St. For more information call 843-757-5191.

Rebekah Anderson, DMD, MSD has joined the practice of Maginnis Orthodontics. She will be seeing patients at the offices in Beaufort and Bluffton. 

Dr. Anderson received her Bachelor of Arts in chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She went on to Boston University, where she received her Master of Arts in medical sciences and her Doctor of Dental Medicine (where she graduated summa cum laude). She also earned her Master of Science in Dentistry at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Dr. Anderson resides in Charleston with her husband, Ryan, and two doodles, Cooper and Charlie.

For more information, visit maginnisorthodontics.com.

The Juice Hive, the Bluffton-based healthy eatery and sister restaurant to The Cottage Café, Bakery & Tea Room, has once again been honored with two prestigious Good Food Awards. For the fifth consecutive year, the eatery has achieved high honors, rising to the top of nearly 2,000 entries, and honored for foods that “represent the highest standards of quality, sustainability and social responsibility.”

The Juice Hive’s winning entries this year are Korean Pickled Elephant Garlic (category: Pickles) and Watermelon Rind Chutney (category: Pantry).

In addition to these two winning entries, the Juice Hive also had an additional honor this year: their popular Superfruit Roll-up was named a finalist in the competitive Snacks category.

For more information, visit thejuicehive.com and thecottagebluffton.com.

Bluffton resident Suzanne Giesemann has been named to the 2022 Watkins List of 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People.  Giesemann is honored for her global work as a spiritual teacher, author and medium.

The list celebrates the positive influence of today’s teachers and leaders who nurture spiritual growth and make the world a better place.  Those on the list must have made a unique spiritual contribution on a global scale. Pope Francis is No. 1 and the Dalai Lama is No. 2. Giesemann debuts at No. 92.   

Former U.S. Navy Commander Giesemann’s service to humanity as a spiritual teacher, author and medium comes after a distinguished 20-year career in the military where she served as a commanding officer and as aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Her transition from senior officer to her current work is featured in the award-winning documentary “Messages of Hope,” based on her memoir by the same name.

More information about Giesemann’s work and many free resources can be found at suzannegiesemann.com.