Summer seemed in full swing last night at the S.H.O.P. (Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity) Wine Tasting Event held at the Stone River Grille in Sandy Hook. At least 80 people, dressed in their warm weather best, came to sample wines, craft beers and a variety of hors d’oeuvres.
First Selectman Patricia Llodra announced, “This is wonderful! Fantastic! Another example of the community supporting the local efforts of the businesses and people in Sandy Hook!”
The music of John Voket of the Newtown Bee played all night long, and was interrupted only when Michael Burton, president of S.H.O.P, came forward with thanks to all who had participated in the evening’s success.
Speaking to the crowd, Burton said, “Organizing events like this is very difficult without fund raising.” Burton mentioned by name those who had made the evening possible including the donors of the auction items and Gary Seri, owner of the Stone River Grille, who had donated the room.
The room was decorated with stunning paintings provided by SCAN, the Society of Creative Arts of Newtown, and long tables wrapped the back of the room, holding items for the Silent Auction.
Two of the most bid upon items were one years free service plus a 96 gallon container from Associated Refuse and a foursome at Rock Ridge Country Club.
Other unusual items for auction included tickets for the Rodney Dangerfield Comedy Club, breakfast with Monsignor Weiss from St Rose of Lima, Roman Catholic Church, lunch with Chris Lyddy and dinner for four with First Selectman Pat Llodra.
The Wine tasting and Silent Auction was held to raise funds for operating expenses for S.H.O.P. which Tim Haas, of the Newtown Chamber of Commerce, said was necessary. “S.H.O.P. has always been run on a shoe string budget,” he said.
Burton said that some of the proceeds of the night would go towards a scholarship fund for a business student at Newtown High School, and would also contribute to the Faith Food Pantry and the Newtown Youth Services.
Joined by his wife Anne, Haas said, “What’s beautiful is that the business owners of Sandy Hook have gathered to bring the community together.”
Haas noted that there are a limited number of events in Sandy Hook that, like the tree lighting, brings people in the community out to celebrate together. Haas also commended Gary Seri for his efforts to support such events in the area. “Gary is trying to make this restaurant the center point of the Sandy Hook community. He is a master at this sort of thing. Someone had an idea, and Gary brought this all together in about four weeks. It’s incredible!”
Haas said he felt it was important to recognize the hard work of Mike Burton and Gary Seri. “Mike and Gary are humble, and would never say these things about themselves.”
Haas’ wife Anne agreed and said, “Gary told me recently that he has one of the biggest pieces of real estate in Sandy Hook and he feels a responsibility to give back to the community. Gary promotes a lot of good, and he often donates this room for community use.”