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United Way program offering free tax preparation help

Free tax preparation assistance is available at several Sonoma County locations through the Earn It! Keep It! Save It! program of United Way and its partnership agencies.

Last year the program assisted 5,200 individuals and families in the North Bay, with refunds of $6.8 million to the local economy. The average refund was $1,824.

Tax help is provided by IRS-certified tax preparers familiar with tax credits available to low- to moderate-income households.

This year, tax clients will have an opportunity to leverage refunds and access additional benefits and services through the United Way and Catholic Charities Savings and Credit Ready Initiative. The new program includes benefit enrollment, financial education, credit repair and matched savings.

A United Way of California report, “Struggling to Make Ends Meet,” found that one in four families in Sonoma County and one in three families in Humboldt, Lake and Mendocino counties struggles to meet their basic monthly needs.

CLOVERDALE

Local student to volunteer in Nicaragua for two week

Cloverdale native Shalynn Mancini is planning to volunteer for two weeks in Nicaragua this June with an organization called “Give,” an established leader in sustainable volunteer and adventure travel.

The 18-year old freshman at Cal State Chico, who says her dream is to change the world, will not only do charity work, she will have a chance to bond with the people and learn more about their culture.

“During my sophomore year at Cloverdale High, I became really passionate about helping people, especially those who don’t have the resources to help themselves. I’ve been looking into this sort of thing for about three years and have had two other opportunities, but it was just never the right time before.”

To raise the $5,000 she will need for airfare and other incidental expenses, Mancini has opened a GoFundMe campaign at Gofundme.com/volunteering-in-nicaragua-with-give. All donations, no matter how small, are welcome.

Visit givevolunteers.org to learn more about “Give” and the work they do around the world.

Citrus Fair seeks past queens and grand marshals

Former Citrus Fair queens and parade grand marshals are invited to participate in the 2017 Citrus Fair Parade slated for Feb. 18.

The theme for this year’s fair, which takes place over President’s Day Weekend, Feb. 17 to 20, is “Something Old, Something New, 125 Years with You.”

For more information, call the Citrus Fair office at 707-894-3992.

SONOMA

Impact100 Sonoma reaches membership record

Impact100 Sonoma has reached a record membership of 290 women dedicated to philanthropy in Sonoma Valley, a 20 percent increase from last year.

The organization is a giving circle, initially with 100 women, that combines each annual donation of $1,000 to help make a difference in the community.

Impact100 Sonoma awards grants including a $100,000 Impact Grant and several smaller Community Grants.

Last year’s Impact Grant recipient, 10,000 Degrees, assists students from low-income families to complete high school and college.

The grant was used to expand services at Sonoma Valley High School and launch a new program at Hanna Boys Center.

Impact100 Sonoma recently introduced a member-funded sponsorship program, NextGen, that encourages young women to participate in local philanthropy. Morgridge Family Foundation contributed a grant toward the new program.

For more information, call 707-939-5007 or visit impact100sonoma.org.