NORTH ATTLEBORO - A warm community atmosphere within the Briggs Garden and Home greenhouse belied Saturday night's frigid temperatures, as more than 300 people attended New Hope's fifth annual Moonlit Wine, Beer and Food Tasting fundraiser.

The proceeds of the fundraiser, which included a raffle and a live and silent auction, will benefit the agency's community programs, which help women and families.

New Hope President Kim Thomas and Laura Martens, the agency's vice president of public relations, were grateful for the community turnout.

"The best thing is to see all these different people from all these business and walks of life come together," Martens said.

"(Domestic violence) is a community issue that affects all of us, and it's heartwarming to see everyone offering what they can to help."

While guests had the opportunity to sample selections from 17 wine vendors and 13 food vendors, many people were drawn to the event's newest attraction: the Shells of Hope tree, provided by Vantel Pearls in the Oyster of Foxboro.

The tree of oyster shells was a message board on which guests could write inspiring messages on the shells for victims of domestic and sexual violence. Each shell will be given to clients in one of New Hope's two emergency shelters.

Joan Hartel Cabral, the president of Vantel Pearls, was thrilled at the community's support of the company's endeavor.

"It's so important to reach out to the individuals who are in shelters," Hartel Cabral said. "Everyone feels that this event is fun, but they want to feel a part of the event, and (the Shells of Hope tree) is doing that for them."

Among the guests was North Attleboro resident Annette Coleman, who has attended the fundraiser for the past five years.

"The organization is doing wonderful things for the community, and they bring together a really nice evening," Coleman said. "I feel like (this event) is part of the community, and it's also a social event."

The presenting sponsor was The Sun Chronicle, with Briggs Garden and Home the venue sponsor.

Other major sponsors included StayGreen Irrigation, Inc. for the lighting, Kelley Boulevard Wine and Liquors (beer and wine sponsor) and Nelson Family Dental as the wine glass sponsor.

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