Palmetto Dunes’ Charitable Organization

• About our island’s unique environment

• About our local youth

• About building camaraderie among our neighbors, our visitors, and
our youth to preserve the island’s natural habitat

Palmetto Dunes Cares is a charitable organization whose motto is: giving back while building community. Our mission is to support local youth and enhance the natural environment in the greater Hilton Head Island area through grants and scholarships.

Since inception in 2018, PD Cares has awarded $155,000 to local non-profits in the greater Hilton Head area. This year we are creating new initiatives that focus on building an environmental stewardship community that actively supports and engages our local youth & all who live, visit, and work in Palmetto Dunes.

Supporting Environmental Stewardship & Our Youth


Support local youth and enhance the natural environment in the greater Hilton Head Island area through grants and scholarships.


Raise awareness, encourage giving, and increase the charitable impact of all those who live, invest, work, and play in the Palmetto Dunes Community

Check us out!

Grants & Youth Scholarships

Eco-Tourism Outreach Program


Our Advisory Council

PALMETTO DUNES cares….about our ISLAND


Palmetto Dunes Cares provides grants to organizations providing services to local youth or the environment.

We are happy to announce that this grant season we awarded $61,350.00 to programs supporting our local youth and the natural environment of the greater Hilton Head area! In fact, 100 percent of our grants this year going to organizations that serve the youth, given that even the environmental agencies who received grant money are ones serving our local youth. In toll, the needs unveiled in this process showed that hunger, safety, safe sleep, and mental health needs are vast with children in our area. The awarding of these Palmetto Dunes Cares grants has been highlighted in the local CH2 magazine.  Check out the article about our 2023 grantees at The Unseen: Local charitable organization, Palmetto Dunes Cares, unveils real needs of area children and families – CH2 (

Complete List of PD Cares 2023 Grant Recipients

  1. Arts Center of Coastal Carolina’s Adaptive Arts Program
  2. Bluffton Self Help
  3. Child Abuse Prevention Association (CAPA)
  4. Coastal Discovery Museum
  5. Family Promise of Beaufort County
  6. Friends of the Savannah Coastal Wildlife Refuges
  7. Heroes on Horseback
  8. Hilton Head Audubon Society
  9. Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity
  10. Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra
  11. Hopeful Horizons
  12. Lowcountry Legal Volunteers
  13. Neighborhood Outreach Connection
  14. Sea Turtle Patrol HHI
  15. Second Helpings, Inc.
  16. The Children’s Center, Inc.
  17. The Hilton Head Island Deep Well Project
  18. The Hunger Coalition of the Lowcountry DBA Backpack Buddies of Hilton Head Island
  19. The Outside Foundation
  20. Volunteers in Medicine Hilton Head Island

PALMETTO DUNES cares….about our YOUTH

In this, our inaugural year of offering an educational scholarship to support a local Hilton Head Island rising high school senior in their goal to attend college, Palmetto Dunes Cares is happy to announce that we awarded scholarships to not one, but two outstanding young Hilton Head Seniors! Yes, these two students have exceptional grades and are extremely motivated to go to college.  Beyond that however, both of them have not only focused on excelling in their educational endeavors, but have also already committed to serving their community, and have overcome both financial and health adversities. Their names are Mr. Benjamin Robert Lewis and Ms. Lea Maria Sheeran.

Benjamin Robert Lewis
Ben Lewis has been awarded a Palmetto Dunes Cares Scholarship for the 2023 / 2024 academic year. Ben is a top student, earning membership in the National Honor Society, as well as the Science, Math and French National Honor Societies. He has worked at Quiet Storm surf shop for 4 years, and still made time to perform community service, earning the Mayor’s Service award in 2021 and 2022.

Ben is a very thoughtful and mature young man.  Ben describes himself as having “a brain for math and a heart for people”, which will serve him well in college, and in his future business career. Ben is also very interested in the environment and has written a research paper on Loggerhead Turtles in which he analyzed and made recommendations for Hilton Head Island to continue improving the environment for the sea turtles.

After graduating from HHI High School in June, Ben will attend Clemson University where he will be studying Business. We are delighted to have Ben as one of our first scholarship recipients, and we are excited about what he will accomplish at Clemson and beyond.

Lea  Maria Sheeran
Lea Sheeran has also been awarded a Palmetto Dunes Cares Scholarship for the 2023 / 2024 academic year. Lea has an impressive academic record. During her high school years, Lea has amassed an impressive academic record, earning membership in the National Honor Society, as well as the Spanish, Science and History National Honor Societies.

Lea will graduate from Hilton Head Island High School in June and will attend the University of South Carolina, Columbia. She plans to study public health, and she has a very personal reason for doing so. When she was younger, Lea was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. As she reflects on that diagnosis and her life-long treatment she is inspired to help others. “Medicine saved my life and I want to pay it forward.” Lea is an engaging, intelligent and caring young lady who is determined to have a positive impact on the world. We have no doubt that she will do just that.

Be on the lookout for further media coverage regarding the awarding of our scholarships to these amazing local young students!

PALMETTO DUNES cares….about our unique ENVIRONMENT


Turtle Trot
The Turtle Trot 5k is a family-friendly fun run series held weekly on the beach  in June, July and August and on Thanksgiving morning & Easter week mornings.

Join in, meet and interact with your neighbors, our staff, and guests of our community!

  • The 3.1-mile course may be run (or walked) by any who live, work, invest, or play here!
  • Registration is online only and is $30 prior to race day and $35 day of the race and includes a t-shirt.
  • Kids under 12 run for $15.
  • Additional race t-shirts can be purchased for $15.
  • All races begin at 8am.
  • Click here to register for a 2023 Turtle Trot.

Turtle Talk

Turtle Talk educates participants on what they can do to help preserve Hilton Head Island’s hatching sea turtles and learn what is happening on our nesting beach.

  • Turtle Talks will be held on Wednesday nights June-August on the beach.
  • The program is designed for both visitors and residents
  • Cost to attend is $20 per person, capacity is limited, this event sells out every week, and all children under the age of 12 need adult supervision.
  • Online registration is required!
  • Click here to register for a 2023 Turtle Talk.

Event Notes: You will need to be able to walk out on the beach, so those with mobility challenges might have difficulty. If you have problems standing for a long period of time or sitting in the sand, please bring a chair. The Turtle Talk is best-enjoyed by adults and children ages five and older, but all children over the age of two are required to purchase a ticket to attend.

Be on the lookout for more program offerings 2023 season!


Palmetto Dunes Cares is funded by donations, local events, and Eco-tourism events such as weekly Beach Turtle Trots, Turtle Talks and the annual Thanksgiving Turtle Trot 5k. Be on the lookout for new additional program offerings for the 2023 season!


Bill Caywood; PD Cares Chairman

Claudia Gant; PD Cares Vice-Chair, Fund Raising Vice-Chair

Gayle Cleaveland; Secretary

Franklin Thomas; Treasurer

Teresa Carroll; Communications & Marketing Chairman

Lauri Davis; Grants, Scholarship

Robert Eberly; Scholarship Chairman

Abbey Hightower; Communications & Marketing

Sue Kerr ; Grants, Scholarship

Joe Maggi; Scholarship

Lisa Mullins; Grants Chairman

Nancy Novak; Fundraising

Ann O’Neil; Fund Raising Chairman

Andrew Schumacher; PDPOA

The 2022 Grant recipients include:

  • Backpack Buddies
    Serving approximately 500 children, their goal is to eradicate childhood hunger on Hilton Head. Their food delivery program provides a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and snack for the weekend to children in need. Due to the pandemic, they have supplemented those deliveries with grocery store gift cards.
  • Bluffton Community Soup Kitchen
    Since 2011, prepares, serves, and delivers meals to those in need in our community. Those needs have grown exponentially due to the pandemic, and they have responded with increased hot meal delivery and expanded the outdoor food pantry.
  • Bluffton Self Help
     To empower and advocate for Lowcountry neighbors to improve their lives through education and training, basic needs, and guided access to a network of community resources.
  • Coastal Discovery Museum 
    Our events, talks, tours, and education programs are specifically designed to plant the seed of discovery and awe, inspiring others to care for a place of rich history and abundant natural resources — to not only care about, but to take on the responsibility of caring for the Lowcountry. vents, talks, tours, and education programs are specifically designed to plant the seed of discovery and awe, inspiring others to care for a place of rich history and abundant natural resources — to not only care about, but to take on the responsibility of caring for the Lowcountry.
  • Deep Well Project
    The Deep Well Project was founded in 1973, digging wells to provide clean, safe water for the Hilton Head Island community.  Since then, it has been the source of emergency assistance to the local community and is supported by individuals, businesses, religious institutions, foundations, clubs, schools and various other organizations.
  • HHI Recreation Assoc.     
    The Hilton Head Island Recreation Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for visitors and locals alike. The Association is responsible for youth and adult sports on Hilton Head, community events, park rentals, senior center, and most recently adding a fitness component with the addition of the $13 million Carmines Recreation Building.
  • Hilton Head Island Safe Harbour
    Hilton Head Island Safe Harbour provides transportation to island residents who no longer can drive, but wish to live in their own home, especially as they age.
  • Hospice Care of the Lowcountry
    Hospice Care of the Lowcountry works to give comfort, honor and dignity for end-of- life patients and their families through compassionate physical, emotional and spiritual care, regardless of their financial circumstances. This task has been made much more difficult because of the COVID environment.
  • Lowcountry Autism Foundation
    Lowcountry Autism Foundation works to provide support to families with children suffering from autism. Their mission is to fill gaps in service and support by providing programming at no cost.
  • Lowcountry Legal Volunteers
    Lowcountry Legal Volunteers provides free legal counsel, representation, and education to low-income residents with regard to their rights regarding fair housing, child care, child support, and custody issues.
  • Memory Matters     
    Memory Matters provides compassionate services for those experiencing cognitive decline, offers caregiver respite, supports families, and educates those who want to maintain or improve their brain health.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Lowcountry
    NAMI provides free mental health education, support and resources for individuals and families who are dealing with stress, anger, anxiety, and depression, and all those affected by mental health conditions, situations exacerbated by COVID.
  • PEP     
    A non-profit organization celebrating its 25th anniversary where people with developmental, physical and intellectual disabilities enhance their lives through socialization, literacy and vocational training.
  • Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head
    Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head Island monitors Hilton Head Island beaches for sea turtle nesting and hatching activity annually, May through October, to promote the existence of these endangered species and to spread awareness of their struggle through public education and outreach.
  • The Children’s Center
    The Children’s Centers’ mission is to provide affordable, high-quality early education and childcare services for working families throughout the Low Country. The Children’s Center strives to be the standard of excellence for child development and care while enabling parents to fully participate in the workforce. Their goal is to ensure that every child is ready to achieve success upon entering kindergarten.
  • World Affairs Council of HH               
    To inspire, educate and engage our community regarding world affairs.WACHH provides a forum to learn more about world events and their impact on the United State of America. We offer a variety of programs for our members, the general public, and the next generation – students in our area who participate in our outreach activities.