A friendship brought together by a hurricane has been cemented by a global pandemic.
Angelina McDonald, mom of four boys all under five, and Shannon Harper, the parent of a 4-year-old son, first met in a moms group and supported each other while evacuating in Hurricane Dorian.
When the pandemic started, McDonald, originally from Rochester, NY, saw a group of women surprising each other with bottles of wine. “I thought, why don’t we make something like that happen down here?”
- Shannon Harper, left, and Angela McDonald.
The first person McDonald drafted to help her was Shannon Harper. The pair started a Facebook group and made their first post on April 21. Six weeks later, they boast a membership of nearly 20,000 women, with another 7,500 membership requests waiting for approval.
Generally, a member of the group will announce she is going to “dust” some women and asks for people to drop their addresses in the comments. Participants can ask for addresses in a region of Georgia, or narrow it down more by requesting a specific neighborhood.
Once the fairy is ready to “dust,” she will leave a basket containing a bottle of wine and other items for the recipient to find. Basically it’s ding-dong-ditch for women over the age of 21.
Recipients of the wine baskets will often post photos of their swag in the group as a means to thank their wine fairy.
Harper says, “we were overwhelmed at first.” But after dusting a few more women and being “wined” themselves, they realized that they were onto something good.
- For the Harper family, fairy dusting has become a family affair.
Wine Fairies can be found all over Georgia. “That was not the plan,” says Harper. “When we realized it was catching on, we expended.”
McDonald laughs, “We wanted to take over Georgia. Why not? I always wanted to do something in my community that would lift people up.”
McDonald says one of her sons will ask, “mommy, are you going to deliver wine?” And upon receiving an affirmative response, he exclaims, “you’re a superhero!”
Their husbands are “all in”, says McDonald “They know every day how hard we work as stay-at-home moms. They’re supportive of our lives because this is bringing us joy and happiness.”
Harper says that on a recent outing together, with the husbands and children in tow, her husband Richard parted the way for them by exclaiming, “everyone move aside, we have wine fairy royalty coming through.”
One fairy, who has chosen to remain anonymous, recently wrote to McDonald and Harper, “I normally don’t do this, but I wanted you both to know that this group has helped me so much. I just left a bad relationship. I was assaulted after leaving him. I didn’t think that I was going to make it. I have no idea how I survived. He almost killed me.”
This fairy said that during the pandemic she was left home without the distractions of work, having to relive and deal with things that she had tried to hide.
“Once I started to play the wine fairy, I’ve been closer to being myself. I’m laughing again, I’m talking to people. It gave me normalcy.”
- Kevin Tomberlin and his loyal steed making a Beer Bastards delivery.
Wine Fairies of Georgia is now a LLC and the duo plan to hold events in the future that will raise money for charities across Georgia.
What are locals saying about Wine Fairies of Georgia?
Yolandra Shipp, who is sometimes called Mama Bird, says, “The few times I saw my fairy, I did not know her. It was a kind gesture. My dustings have included wines, flavor vodkas, chocolate, chips, candy, wine glasses, and more. I love the wine fairy.”
Lacy Marsh’s “flying buddy” is her friend Grace. They generally dust women in the Southside Savannah areas. “It has helped to keep hope alive in some ways, spreading joy to others. I’ve had a lot of fun.”
Marsh has dusted 12 ladies, and has been dusted herself three times. “It helps me get rid of items lying around my house, by giving items that someone else can use. It has brought a smile to my face when someone posts the bag I made.”
There is now a group for the men too.
“The main impetus for beginning Beer Bastards of Georgia for the men was because I started doing wine fairy deliveries with my wife, and had a great time giving to strangers,” says Kevin Tomberlin.
“Then, someone wined my wife, I was really touched that someone thought enough to dust her. They got the wine and snacks together, and made the trip to our home. We decided together that the men needed something like this, and that’s where the Beer Bastards originated. It has grown and been built on giving folks a purpose and a connection to our community, and to each other.”
“I’m part of a few Facebook groups going on right now to uplift people,” says Kristy Dyal. “I’m on the Wine Fairy page, Snack Fairy page, and though I’m not comfortable with the name of the group for the guys, (Beer Bastards) I’m part of that also.”
Dyal has become an experienced fairy during the pandemic, with at least 100 deliveries under her “wings”, drafting her son, Chase, to help make the drops.
“I haven’t really kept a count because it just became so much fun. The excitement these ladies get from getting dusted as we call it in the groups, just made me feel so good, keeping count never mattered.”
I had my own experience “dusting” someone this week. I brought my husband along to help with the ding-dong-ditch part. Upon racing back to the car he exclaimed, “What kind of get away driver are you? You don’t even have the car in gear.”