SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY, NJ - Nicole Quick of Ocean Acres in Manahawkin readily admits she is an extrovert and overall positive person. When COVID-19 caused New Jersey to essentially shut down, Quick found it a struggle. She also realized she was not alone and sprang into action. Enter the birth of the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine & Goodies of Stafford/Barnegat/LBI.”
Quick takes no credit for the originality of the idea. She has friends in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania who participate in "Sisterhood Traveling" groups in their geographic areas. The concept seems to borrow its name from the epic book and movie “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” In this case, the premise throughout the country, focuses on spreading positivity during difficult times. Women get excited paying it forward to random strangers who can use some cheer as though they are magical fairies.
“I decided our community could use a group like this,” said Quick, a mother of a first-grader and toddler. “I also figured I could use some more mom friends.”
When Quick started the Facebook page on May 13th, she expected a group of approximately 100 people would sign on. Until recently, members had the ability to invite others. Although Quick says she capped membership at 3500, there are now 3,607 taking on the role as fairies sprinkling positivity within the community.
The members come from as far north as Toms River and as far south as Tuckerton. Quick initially expected that young mothers would participate. However, the message of positivity has made its way into many of the local over 55 communities.
“With so many of us still on lock down, working from home, homeschooling our kiddos, I figured we could all use a little surprise once in a while,” said Quick in her first message to the group. “Make up little goodie bags of whatever you have or can get and make surprise deliveries/porch drops offs to people!”
The rules stress privacy and give participants the choice in revealing their identities or keeping them secret. Quick put together a Google doc to list addresses and to help track who has received or given out surprises.
Quick monitors posts before women share them. She does not want anyone to feel they are obligated to spend enormous amounts of money. Quick therefore eliminates the posts with bigger ticket items, like those asking for shoe sizes. Photos of items going out and baskets received dominate the page.
Tina Evanchik of Waretown had already been doing what she called “sacking” her friends when she was invited to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine & Goodies group. Her packages included a note referring to her “friendship survival kit” to help during today’s crazy times. She added some trivia so her friends could guess her identity.
“My kids and me then put together 34 baskets for those students,” says Evanchik. “We randomly delivered them where we saw the signs.”Once Evanchik joined the Facebook group, she picked the names of twelve random strangers from her neighborhood. She enlisted the help of her two children to help deliver them. In the process, the Evanchiks came across the signs marking the homes of 2020 Southern Regional High School graduates.
While some might say to give is to receive, the thought does not appear the impetus for most people’s generosity. Both Quick and Evanchik say their goal is to put smiles on the faces on those going through hard times.
Nonetheless, more than one participant has admitted they look forward to seeing if a fairy has come by to dust them. The group’s objective has hit its mark in distracting people from the negative.
“Anyone else become a stalker from inside their home??” asked one group member. “I can’t pass my front door without looking at porch-it’s like waiting for your Amazon package - only better.”