BRATTLEBORO -- The United Way of Windham County held its first Handbags for HOPE event on April 24. The event honored the role of women in philanthropy in Windham County and celebrated April as the Month of the Young Child, raising over $10,000 for United Way's Fund for Quality Early Education.

Handbags for HOPE featured a silent and live auction of 80 unique items, with Jean Gilbert offering spirited commentary as auctioneer. The auction items included designer bags by Kate Spade, Dooney & Bourke, Coach, and Betsey Johnson, artisan-made bags, totes, purses, evening bags, backpacks, briefcases, and many one-of-a-kind items. Auction items were donated by local stores and businesses, designers, artists, and community members.

Food was provided by Hardy Foard Catering, Grafton Cheese, Top Tier Baking Co., and Vermont Country Deli, with a cash bar supplied by the Sportsmen's Lounge. The event was sponsored by The Merchants Trust Company, PCL Construction, Brattleboro Retreat, Brattleboro Subaru, Derby Building & Woodwork, Downs Rachlin Martin, and River Valley Credit Union, with media support by the Reformer and WKVT.

The proceeds of the Handbags for HOPE event will benefit the United Way of Windham County's Fund for Quality Early Education, which provides grants to early childhood educators and caregivers for professional development, program improvement, and program enrichment. The keynote speaker, Judy Rosner, Coordinator of the Early Childhood Educators' Network for Windham County, shared her perspective as a grant recipient and the impact the Fund has had on local early childhood educators.

For more information, visit www.unitedwaywindham.org.