By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Doorsteps across a suburb in Detroit are covered in gift baskets randomly delivered by a group that calls itself the Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine, named after The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a book that tells the story of four inseparable female friends.
The group, now 3,000 strong, started earlier this month as a way to bring cheer to women during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is a true ding dong ditch to bring happiness and to let you feel like you’re being supported by an amazing community,” Tracy Murley told ABC News’ Good Morning America, referring to a Midwestern term that refers to dropping something at someone’s front door. “It is not an expectation to receive, it is an opportunity for giving, and when you do receive, you know someone is there for you.”
Murley, 39, a mom of two, started the Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine in her town of Canton, Michigan, after being invited to join a group doing the same thing in another part of Michigan, where she grew up.
“As a family, when the lockdown was coming, we committed that we would do one good deed every single day, regardless of how we felt or how yucky the news was,” Murley told GMA. “We delivered cookie kits and games and paid for people’s groceries in line behind us.”
“It was getting to the point of, ‘What can we do next?’ and then I saw [the Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine] and was like this is perfect timing,” she said.
Murley started by creating a private Facebook group and inviting 30 friends to participate. Now with 3,000 members, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine has delivered thousands of gift baskets, with most including wine, to thousands of women.
Members of the Facebook group simply post their information and then other members can choose to “wine” them, or deliver a gift basket to their doorstep. You can “wine” and “be wined” as many times as you’d like, according to Mulrey.
While the group is known best for wine, gift baskets also include coffee and other non-alcoholic drinks, food and self-care items like face masks and bath bombs, according to Lyssa McClenahan, a member of the Canton Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine.
“Someone saw on my personal Facebook page that I got a grill and made me a basket filled with grilling essentials,” McClenahan said. “It’s not really about receiving a bottle of wine. It’s just letting people know I’m here for you if you need something.”
McClenahan, a dance teacher, said making the gift baskets together as a family has been a welcome distraction for her three kids, who are all competitive dancers and saw their seasons, as well as their in-person school classes, abruptly end due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For Murley, a regional sales director for a local hotel chain, organizing the Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine group for her hometown has brought some much-needed joy in her own life too. She recently had to furlough or lay off her entire staff, and, like so many other parents, has been leading her two sons through virtual learning and the end of their extracurricular activities.
“I’ve always believed in giving and seeing my community do this: it’s breathtaking,” said Murley, who noted she’s become friends with a neighbor of 13 years and a mom in her son’s class for the first time through this experience.
“We so get lost in everything we do every day and running kids here and there and everywhere and we get so competitive,” she said. “I think this has really united our community and opened us up to where we’re willing to know our neighbor. Maybe it took a pandemic to get us here, but let’s not lose it.”
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine group in Canton has grown so large that local businesses are now offering items to include in the baskets. A local clothing company volunteered to make T-shirts for the group and donate 70% of the proceeds to a woman’s shelter in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“As powerful women doing this to uplift women, I thought let’s find something that impacts women,” said Murley. “This shelter is really struggling right now.”
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