Grace College student Lila Schuiteman receives tax documents from a participant of the curbside VITA program. Photo Provided.
Grace College student Lila Schuiteman receives tax documents from a participant of the curbside VITA program. Photo Provided.
WINONA LAKE — The Grace College School of Business prepares for its 14th year of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The program, sponsored by United Way of Kosciusko County and the Gordon Institute of Enterprise Development at Grace College, provides free tax preparation to elderly, disabled and lower-income individuals filing a basic tax return. This year, the school will conduct the returns “curbside.” Participants can pull up to the lower level parking lot of the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center (MOCC), 610 Wooster Road, Winona Lake, Feb. 6 through March 30.

“VITA is a chance for Grace College to live out its mission of practicing character, competence and service for the community of Kosciusko County,” said Danielle Deal, the program’s director, who also volunteered for the program as a Grace College student. “It provides a direct opportunity to put our words into action, loving our communities in an authentic, Christ-like manner for over a decade. We are excited to grow the program and keep it running for another 10 years.”

Back by popular demand, the VITA program will be conducted as a drop-off service. When a VITA participant pulls up to the MOCC, a Grace student will come to the car, receive all of the necessary documents and take them inside to the tax preparers. Once the taxes are filed and complete, the participant will be notified to pick them up.

Each student enrolled in the Grace College Federal Income Tax class is required to volunteer with VITA for 20 hours, but all business students are able to earn practicum credits through volunteering.

Lila Schuiteman, a facility and event management major and second-year VITA volunteer, expressed why she has jumped at the opportunity to help with VITA.

"As a volunteer, I think it’s amazing we are able to provide assistance to those who can greatly benefit from our help,” said Schuiteman. “I appreciate the opportunity to gain professional real-life experiences and skills in business all while serving the community.”

Volunteers, including Grace College business students, professors and certified public accountants (CPAs), make the service possible in Kosciusko County. Grace is now accepting additional CPA volunteers. Those interested in volunteering can contact Danielle Deal at [email protected]

VITA appointments can be made via phone at 574-372-5160, or email at [email protected] Appointments are available on Mondays from 5 to 8 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.