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VOLUNTEERS CELEBRATE — Some of the student volunteers for Stetson University’s VITA program pose with a celebratory cake for topping $2 million in tax refunds to local families over the past nine years.

The Stetson University School of Business Administration hosted a celebratory event recently to commemorate the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program securing $2 million in tax refunds for local families over the past nine years.

Co-sponsored by the United Way of Volusia-Flagler counties, Stetson’s M.E. Rinker, Sr. Institute of Tax and Accountancy and Stetson’s Center for Community Engagement, the VITA program’s nearly 60 volunteers helped file more than 2,000 tax returns, at no charge, for low-income families in the community.

Bonnie Holloway, a visiting lecturer in accounting, served as site coordinator for Stetson’s VITA program. This year alone, she trained 50 student volunteers and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the site.

“I’m so proud of our volunteers,” said Holloway. “Not only do they provide quality tax-preparation services to the community, but they also interact respectfully with the clients as they learn valuable real-world skills.”

Each tax return was reviewed for quality control by the VITA site coordinator, a student assistant site coordinator, or a member of Stetson’s Accounting Advisory Board. Board members donated their time and expertise to serve as mentors to the student tax preparers.

“One of our reviewers, Geoff Gose, is a former Stetson student who now works in the corporate tax department at Disney, and he volunteers his time to this program and to our community,” Holloway said.

Stetson’s VITA program was just one of nearly two dozen sites offering eligible taxpayers free help in filing their returns to the IRS.

VITA help also was available at 10 other sites in Volusia County, including two in DeLand. AARP offered Tax-Aide preparation assistance at 13 locations around Volusia County, three of which were in West Volusia.