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If you live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware, there’s a chance you’ve been “dusted” by men in kilts, children dressed as fairies or women wearing animal masks.
The doorbell rings, but no one is out front — maybe you see someone in a hot dog costume speedily walking away. You find a basket of booze and mixers at your doorstep. Sometimes there are snacks.
The self-declared “booze fairies” are the coronavirus quarantine trend that pays it forward. The point is not to be on the receiving end, per se, but rather to make someone else’s day with a gift.
Mount Holly resident Allyson Churry created “The Booze Fairies” Facebook group in early May. The group is a spinoff of another one that gifted wine, which was itself inspired by similar efforts taking place in other states. Churry loved the idea, but prefers spirits, and with the wine group’s blessing, she went off on her own.
“We’re in a quarantine, times are weird. People are struggling financially, people are struggling mentally,” said Churry. “People like me are homeschooling, basically teaching our kids to read and it’s tough. So being able to pick a random person and deliver a shot of vodka — it’s the thought that counts.”
The Booze Fairies group now has more than 4,000 members from Mercer, Burlington, Cumberland, Atlantic, Salem, Camden, Ocean and Gloucester counties.
The rules are simple. Each county has a thread of addresses people type in, along with their “poison” of choice, and then you deliver your basket. Sometimes, threads are dedicated to moms, essential workers or people out of work. The whole point is to avoid discovery, key when so many people are home all day and are trying to observe social distancing. There is no minimum or maximum you have to spend to participate.
The packages come with little notes full of fairy lingo pertinent to the group. For example, the booze fairies tend to write notes that read, “You’ve been dusted” or messages like, “Don’t worry, don’t cry, drink vodka and fly.” Groups that gift wine say, “You’ve been wined.” The beer groups tell their members they’ve been “beer-ed.”
Everyone is screened for age requirements — members must be at least 21 years old — and sworn to secrecy because of the sensitive and often personal information shared in the group.
Aside from respecting people’s privacy, the motto is to have fun dusting others, which people have taken seriously.
Entire families have posted videos and photos of partners and children prancing away from people’s porches before the homeowner opens the door.
Grown adults have posted videos and photos of themselves walking up homes wearing a stuffed bird mask, bear mask or santa hat. Children are seen wearing hula skirts and ballet outfits, dashing back to their parents’ cars.
Churry dresses her 6-year-old daughter up as a fairy, wings and all, for deliveries. The young fairy likes to deliver the gifts, ring the doorbell and run back to the car, said Churry.
“She thinks it’s the most fun she’s ever had in weeks because, you know, we’re all stuck inside of a house,” said Churry.
‘My little fairy made such a difference’
For those on the receiving end of a “dusting,” “wine-ing” or “beer-ing,” the rule is to show the gift basket off in the Facebook group.
And the gesture means a lot to recipients, who post photos and videos of their gifts to the Facebook group. Some open up and share personal stories about how they have been struggling with the added responsibilities of being parents, school teachers and work from home employees — all at once.
Jaileen Vargas, who recently moved from Massachusetts to Lindenwold, is also juggling a newborn and her job, two things that have been made much harder by being so far away from her loved ones.
In a video taken by her porch camera about 20 minutes before getting “boozed,” you see Vargas coming out to her doorstep for fresh air. She looks around and cups her face with her hands to let out a small groan.
“I was on the verge of a breakdown,” Vargas wrote in her post. “I went to open the door [20 minutes later] just to let in some fresh air and MY MOOD CHANGED COMPLETELY. Thank you, thank you whoever, wherever you are!!”
At her doorstep was a small bag packed with two lollipops, two airplane shots of vodka, a Bud Light Straw-Ber-Rita and a frozen cocktail mix.
Vargas said Sunday she has no idea who left the gift, but it was a reprieve from the emotional rollercoaster that quarantine has become.
“My little fairy made such a difference in what would’ve been another sad day,” she wrote in a Facebook message.
‘Booze fairies’ growing in number across the tri-state area
Another group in the New Jersey area called the “Booze Brothers” has several hundred members.
A “Wine Fairies” group launched in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in early May. That group is close to reaching 2,000 members, who can request wine, coffee or tea deliveries.
The “Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine – Delaware” started in early April as a small circle of family and friends who gifted each other wine.
But as people in the group invited more friends and more family, it grew to more than 17,000 members who give and receive wine, as well as candies.
Churry said she can see why so many people are attracted to the idea.
“I feel like it’s helping a lot of people in a lot of different ways — and it’s not just about booze,” she said, before getting ready to pack up some more baskets.