Icelandic shipping company Eimskip welcomed over 450 guests to a packed Ocean Gateway in Portland on Dec. 11 for the Scandinavian Northern Lights Charity Christmas Party.

The party was part of a three-year initiative to benefit LearningWorks in 2015, Rippleffect in 2016 and the Cancer Community Center in 2017. The event raised over $45,000 for LearningWorks.

“I feel very strongly about the community here,” said Larus Isfeld, managing director of Eimskip USA, as he welcomed revelers and expressed his appreciation to Portland for the reception his company has received. “Being a part of this community has been a keystone to our success.”

Ethan Strimling, who recently stepped down as CEO of LearningWorks to serve as Portland’s mayor, extended his gratitude for Eimskip’s support of the nonprofit that provides learning opportunities for at-risk youth, the immigrant community and low-income families in Maine.

“Thank you very much for supporting LearningWorks, and for all that Eimskip is doing to help this community,” he said to rousing applause.

Guests mingled and spirits flowed freely as the charity auction and raffle began. Patrick Arnold, owner of Soli DG attended with his wife, Janeen. Dana Eidsness, director of the Maine North Atlantic Development Office, chatted with Jeanne Hulit, president of community banking at Northeast Bank.

Shenna Bellows, the interim CEO of LearningWorks, attended with her husband, Brandon Baldwin. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree also joined the party.

“Having Eimskip as a corporate citizen here in Portland contributes to the port and to the community,” said Bill Needelman, waterfront coordinator for the city. “It also contributes to our relationships abroad.”

As the formalities of the evening wound down and Icelandic music producer DJ Hermigervall plugged in, the party began in earnest. Bombastic electronica pulsated until the room nearly levitated.

“To be the beneficiary of this event and have so much support from within the community is incredible,” said Eric Tracy, a LearningWorks board member.

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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