Second grade students from Ms. Rea Colella’s class at Michael C. Riley Elementary School in Bluffton responded to our call for letters to Santa.

MONTHLY CELEBRATES LOCAL BUSINESSES AND COMMUNITIES WITH THE 2017 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS.

These are the “best of the best” places to shop, dine, live, party and more, as voted by you, our readers. We received 12,001 electronic ballots in our eight-week Readers’ Choice campaign, intending to identify the top contenders in wide-ranging categories. Are you looking for the best of the Lowcountry? You’ll find it here. If you don’t find your favorites here, make sure to cast your ballot next year. Congratulations to this year’s winners, and special thanks to all who voted.

HILTON HEAD SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA MOVES TO NEW HOME

The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra has joined forces with The Richardson Group and is moving to a new location in Coligny Plaza. The new space will be at 7 Lagoon Road and will also house the symphony orchestra’s offices, as well as serve as an event space for the community — it’s ideal for intimate events like recitals, small interactive concerts and theatre productions. The symphony orchestra expects the new space to open in early summer.

How does the Lowcountry spend the holiday season?

MONTHLY ASKED AREA RESIDENTS WHAT THEY’LL BE DOING TO CELEBRATE. HERE ARE A FEW OF THEIR ANSWERS:

“I don’t have any plans yet. I think I’m just going to work. My family is in Puerto Rico and my parents still don’t have power or water after the hurricane. The communications are not good either, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to talk with them on Christmas.”
Nobiraida Infante, waitress at Truffles and Chow Daddy’s

GROUP46 NAMED EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR

Group46 president Ryan Lockhart was named Employer of the Year by the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department. He was honored with the award at the Vocational Rehabilitation Open House Luncheon in Beaufort in October. The department provides job placement and training for people with disabilities. David Russell was hired as a graphic designer for Group46, a new position made possible by the vocational program.

LOCAL VETERANS REFLECT ON THEIR SERVICE

Every year on the 11th day of the 11th month, Americans honor past and present members of the armed forces with Veterans Day ceremonies, parades and other community events. Meant to honor the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in the U.S. military, as well as the families who have been left behind to wait and worry, the holiday was first established as Armistice Day in 1918. It marked the treaty signed by the Allies and Germany to end fighting on the western front during World War I. In 1954, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day in the U.S.

THE END OF THE DACA PROGRAM WILL AFFECT THE LOWCOUNTRY

How much difference does a 3-by-2-inch card make? For Reynaldo Gonzalez of Hardeeville and his younger siblings, it made all the difference in the world.

After their mother’s death in January, Gonzalez, 23, became the sole provider for his sisters, 19-year-old Vanessa, Lizbeth, 15, and his 8-year-old brother, Alex. The card that helped him take care of them up until now is his work authorization, obtained through the federal program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

HILTON HEAD COUPLE TREKS ACROSS AMERICA IN A 1960 MGA SPORTS CAR

Liz Niner, a retired special education teacher’s aide, decided that 2017 was the year she would check off another item on her bucket list: Traveling across the U.S. in a 1960 MGA sports car.

She and her husband, Lee, have been involved with MG sports cars since 1981. They spent years showing off their three cars around the U.S. and in Canada and Great Britain, so it made sense that a cross-country trip would be on her to-do list. But for Liz, it wasn’t just another ride.

TINY HOMES OF HILTON HEAD OWNER JAMES MCGRATH IS WALKING THE WALK, ONE TINY STEP AT A TIME.

Somewhere in the middle of the woods on Daufuskie Island — we’re not at liberty to say where — a tiny house is making a huge statement. It’s the affordable housing of the future, with the American dream of owning a home adjusted to the scale of modern living. It’s a statement about living in tune with the environment, completely removed as it is from the grid.

COUPLE’S DONATION TO ST. JUDE INSPIRES OTHERS TO DO THE SAME

At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, everyone sits together in the cafeteria for lunch: doctors, parents and patients. It’s an opportunity for those affected by childhood cancer to comfort and interact with others dealing with the same things. This special facility is on the frontlines in the battle against the disease, and it’s the inspiration for Hilton Head Island residents Claire and Tony Karnas.