The fifth annual Party with a Purpose New Year’s gala at Boone’s Fish House & Oyster Room on Custom House Wharf was one guests won’t soon forget. It was, after all, the coldest New Year’s Eve in Portland since 1963.

While several guests attended the event to support Full Plates Full Potential, some were just looking for an affordable all-in-one stop for dinner, dancing to live music and a Champagne toast. Others, like Katie Fearon and Shawn Nicholson of Gorham, were there for the band.

The couple had planned for the cover band Kilcollins to play at their upcoming wedding in August. When they learned that the band’s last gig would be on New Year’s, they knew how they wanted to usher in 2018.

Whatever the draw was for the 100 hardy souls who braved frigid temperatures, Party with a Purpose raised about $10,000 for Full Plates Full Potential. Half of that was donated by sponsor organization Nappi Distributors.

“Restaurants like this offer to throw events like this for no charge so every dollar raised can help kids around the state be connected with nutritious meals,” said John Woods, co-founder of Full Plates Full Potential.

“Chefs are dealing with almost glutinous amounts of food and gourmet ingredients,” said Harding Lee Smith, owner of Boone’s. “And you think about one in five kids being food insecure. The fact a kid doesn’t know where his next bologna sandwich is coming from is a big deal. New Year’s is going to be a big night anyway. Why not give something back?”

“Our state leaves about $100 million in funding in Washington simply because we haven’t removed the barriers that allow kids to access USDA-funded meals,” Woods said. “Full Plates Full Potential identifies barriers and works with schools around the state to remove them. Oftentimes, a school might just need a cart or a cooler to take meals to classrooms or a tablet to track participation.”

For more information on Full Plates Full Potential, go to

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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