Blufftonians Give Thanks


As Thanksgiving approaches, Bluffton residents reflect on what they’re most grateful for at this time of year.

Thanksgiving, which falls on November 23 this year, offers the perfect opportunity to express gratitude for all of life’s bounty. It’s also the ideal time to reflect upon the undeniable challenges of the past year and to count our many blessings.

Here in Bluffton, residents endured the wrath of Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Irma in less than twelve months. At the same time, Blufftonians witnessed the incredible growth of the town and the welcome expansion of our iconic Bluffton State of Mind.

We spoke with a number of Blufftonians about what they’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Here is what they had to say.

Tina Burdette Toomer

Tina Burdette Toomer: Owner, Bluffton Oyster Company. 28 years in Bluffton.

What I love most about Bluffton: I love the small town feel of Bluffton and the people here. I love the streetscape, the river, the new dock, the restaurants, the art galleries and quirky shops and just being able to walk into the post office or bank and know everyone there. I love the festivals that we have here year-round. I love that our town offers our children and grandchildren job opportunities should they choose to make Bluffton their home once they have reached adulthood.

What I’m thankful for: I am thankful for the May River. I am thankful for oysters and shrimp and the ability to work the river to provide fresh seafood. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for the sunrise and sunset that we can see every day and night on the May River. I am thankful to be here and to have lived a life this full!

Maggie Yelton: Owner, Maggie Yelton Photography. 10 years in Bluffton.

What I love most about Bluffton: My most favorite thing about Bluffton is the May River. It doesn’t matter how hard my day has been, I can walk to the river and my senses are overloaded with gratefulness.

As I watch my son throw oyster shells in the water, cast a net with his daddy and get pluff mud up to his knees.

What I’m thankful for: I’m most thankful for my family. My husband is my favorite person on this earth, whose calming presence stands by me through all of life’s ups, downs and in-betweens. My son fills my days with so much laughter, wonder and love.

Sharon and granddaughter, Amira

Sharon Brown: Secretary and Office Manager at Bluffton High School. 25 years in Bluffton.

What I love most about Bluffton: I enjoy family, friends and worshiping in Bluffton.

What I’m thankful for: I am thankful for a new beginning that the Lord has given me in my life and for my granddaughter Amirah. Now, I am a new person through Him that strengthens me.

Marc Orlando

Marc Orlando: Town Manager, Town of Bluffton. Living in Bluffton for 3.5 years and working in Bluffton for 13 years.

What I love most about Bluffton: I love the spirit and sense of pride of the Bluffton community. I also love that Bluffton is family-oriented. It’s such a great place to raise our children.

What I’m thankful for: I am thankful for my family, especially my Mom, my wife Jackie, my daughter Emmy and my son Ben. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful that I live in this amazing Bluffton community and have the opportunity to work for the community.

Erika Aparicio: Account Executive, Island Communications. 27 years in Bluffton.

What I love most about Bluffton: I’ve been around the world and back, but there is something unmistakably special about Bluffton and those who inhabit it. When a town experiences rapid growth, the identity of the town can easily be lost. The people of Bluffton have worked hard to preserve what makes Bluffton special, while also giving it a new identity as the cultural hub of the Lowcountry.

What I’m thankful for: That my family was safe after the massive earthquake struck Mexico. My father is originally from Mexico City, and a large portion of my extended family live in and around Mexico City. My dad’s sister and her family lost their apartment. The entire building was condemned, and they were left homeless on the street with nothing with them but the clothes on their back. I couldn’t be more thankful for the kind individuals who have come to their aid. You really don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone, and, despite all of the disasters that have struck, you can bet that I know exactly why I am thankful this particular upcoming Thanksgiving Day.

Brannon Sulka

Brannon Sulka: Business Analyst, eviCore HealthCare. 28 years in Bluffton.

What I love most about Bluffton: The culture. It is difficult to put into words the culture of Bluffton because it’s more of a feeling and sense of being. It’s the environment where we live, watching sunsets from the bluff, walking among 100-year-old oak trees. While Bluffton has grown so much, the feeling I have each time I step back and look around me has never changed. The casual laid-back atmosphere, the salt-filled air, the passionate and welcoming community is the very essence of Bluffton, which makes up the culture I will forever love.

What I’m thankful for: Community. In the last month, I have experienced more than one example of the value of a strong community and the friendship and kindness from which it stems. Most recently, Hurricane Irma left much of the All Joy area flooded with three to four feet of water. Within the next four hours, individuals from the entire community jumped in to help get the water out of my boyfriend Patrick’s home and keep more water from entering. More friends drove as close as they could get to the home and then waded through three feet of water to offer help. Out of their own kindness, neighbors on higher ground brought extra sump pumps. My father had a needed generator. During it all, the fire department was going to door-to-door to make sure residents were safe. The kindness and generosity was overwhelming. I am truly thankful to live amongst such a strong example of community.

Eric Esquivel

Eric Esquivel: Publisher, La Isla Magazine. 35 years in Bluffton.

What I love most about Bluffton: Bluffton truly is a state of mind. You have the experience of Southern charm and Southern living with the mix of the development of the 21st century. It’s still a small town with historic beauty.

What I’m thankful for: I’m thankful for every new day, for my family, my children and friends and the Bluffton community. I’m grateful for the opportunity to live in such an amazing place.