An anonymous benefactor donated $500,000 to the Bluffton Campbell Chapel AME Church in May. The congregation celebrated its “guardian angel” with a banquet and mortgage-burning ceremony; the donation effectively paid off the church’s mortgage and leaves administrators free to focus on other missions, like refurbishing the historic chapel that was built in 1853 and sold to freed slaves in the 1870s. 

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE BLISSFUL SERENITY OF AIR CONDITIONING.

Ah, the great outdoors: the brightly shining sun, wide sandy beaches, and gently rolling waves of Hilton Head Island.

WHAT COULD BE BETTER?

While the Lowcountry’s many marketing professionals do a great job of making our home seem like paradise, the truth is, sometimes it rains here. In July, “sometimes” can mean most afternoons. And all that brightly shining sun can lead to a lot of sunburns.

FRESH TOMATOES MAKE THE BEST BLOODY MARYS

For six generations at the Sanders family farm on St. Helena Island, the reddest, ripest, juiciest tomatoes were discarded as waste. Workers at commercial tomato farms pick the fruit and pack it when it’s green, and the family couldn’t consume all the ripe tomatoes their 400 acres produced.

U.S. 278 widening project coming soon

Entering and leaving Windmill Harbour will become significantly safer soon. The improvement to that stretch of U.S. 278 is just one of many for the area’s main thoroughfare.

Denise SpencerDenise Spencer, president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, has announced that she will retire in June 2019. Under her 12-year tenue, the Community Foundation has more than doubled its combined assets to over $72 million. The number of component funds served by the Community Foundation has grown to 350 and grants/scholarships made since inception in 1994 now total $71 million. 

Charli BobinchuckMore than 500 Lowcountry residents gathered at the Folly near Burke’s Beach to celebrate the life of Charli Bobinchuck, an 11-year-old Hilton Head Island girl who was struck and killed by a car in a U.S. 278 crosswalk near Yacht Cove Drive in June. At the memorial event, mourners tossed flowers into the ocean surrounded by photos of Charli and letters to her parents, Bryan and Daisy Bobinchuck. Friends and family also spoke about Charli’s love of animals and her fun-loving spirit.

Beginning Aug. 1, Sea Pines visitors will now pay $8, up from $6, to enter the gate. This fee increase will allow Sea Pines to address critical projects for the community, including funding improvements to increase efficiencies at the existing gate entrances.

The Art League of Hilton Head Island is seeking 2-D and 3-D craft artisans for the Craft Hilton Head 2018 Exhibition. Artist entries should encompass exemplary creativity, experimentation, and imagination, showcasing what can be accomplished with few restrictions. This is a juried gallery show in a community that loves art and buys art. More than $4,000 in cash will be awarded by two nationally recognized judges. Deadline for applications is Oct. 20. For more information, call the art league at 843-681-5060.

Hilton Head Isand Airport welcomed its first regularly scheduled commercial jet flight in June. A large crowd of officials, guests and media, plus two fire trucks spraying arcs of water, were on hand to greet American Eagle Flight 4529 as it arrived at the terminal. The new jet, a 76-passenger Embraer ERJ-175, is replacing the venerable Bombardier Dash-8 turboprops that have long served the island's airport and which are being retired by American Eagle.

A bridge on S.C. 46 between Bluffton and Savannah has been named for Melanie Lowther, a Pritchardville woman killed five years ago by a drifter who met Lowther and her husband when they stopped to buy him groceries and then continued to help him and his girlfriend. The man has since been sentenced to life in prison without parole. The bridge will serve to honor Lowther’s kind spirit and memory in the Lowcountry.

Sometimes, sanitation gets the attention it deserves. In recognition of an ongoing project to replace septic systems on the north end of Hilton Head Island with a modern sewer system, the Town of Hilton Head Island, in partnership with the Hilton Head Island Public Service District and Community Foundation of the Lowcountry's Project SAFE (Sewer Access for Everyone) won a 2017 Secretary's Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnership, presented by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Council of Foundations.

First Tee of The Lowcountry is recruiting coaches and role models to assist with its rapidly-growing programs throughout Beaufort and Jasper counties. While a working knowledge of the game of golf is helpful, the group is looking for well-organized, patient individuals who represent First Tee’s nine core values and want to help children grow in golf and in life. For more information, call 843-686-2680 or email ndunham@thefirstteelowcountry.org.

Travel + Leisure magazine readers have voted Hilton Head Island the best island in the U.S. for the third straight year. The announcement was made on NBC’s “Today” show in June and showcased Hilton Head’s golf courses, resorts and 12 miles of coastline.

The American Heart Association announced that Catherine Donaldson will be the chairwoman of the 22nd annual Heart Ball of the Southern Coast. The Heart Ball will be held Feb. 2 at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa. In her role as chairwoman, Donaldson will work with local leaders to support the Southern Coast Heart Ball and expand the AHA’s mission. She has been a local Realtor for almost 15 years, and her commitment to the 2019 Heart Ball is personal: Her husband, Brad, died suddenly from a massive heart attack in September 2016.

NEW BOUTIQUE HOTEL SET TO OPEN IN BLUFFTON

For decades, Larry Leary kept a mental scrapbook of every inspiring design style, every Old World detail that intrigued or amazed, and held onto them. A renowned restorer of historic homes, he plied his trade in some of the most lavish homes in the Northeast, with a client list of CEOs and business elites. With every classic home he restored, he made notes on the architectural details that defined its elegance.