THOMASTON—Back in March, 29-year-old Carly Laughery, of Thomaston, had her hands full with three kids and a job at Staples. With so many people around her losing jobs, childcare, and their financial security due to the COVID-19 virus, Laughery looked at ways she could possibly help.
She heard about a mysterious nationwide group called “Wine Fairies,” people who band together to anonymously drop a bag or basket of wine, food, or other special gifts on the doorstep of someone having a rough time.
“I had a friend in New York who was part of the Wine Fairies group, so I started a Facebook group in Maine,” said Laughery. “I didn’t expect it to get so big, but we ended up with more than 4,000 followers within two months.”
Little did Laughery know it at the time, but she took on a second full-time job with that decision—and it is reaping benefits all over Maine. Members of the Facebook group identify someone in need and then certain Wine Fairies dress up and deliver their bags of goodies they call “dustings” at the front door. The Fairies then take off before they can be thanked.
“It’s like ‘Ding Dong Ditch,’ but with wine,” said Laughery. “With COVID-19, the concept was to brighten somebody’s day without having any physical contact.”
“I gave one basket to a single mom and it had wine, chocolates and flowers, stuff she wouldn’t regularly treat herself to on a regular basis,” she said.
Now, with the holidays approaching The Wine Fairies of Maine are broadening their philanthropic scope by gifting families in Maine with holiday presents, clothes, and food.
Even though the group started out informally, Laughery has streamlined the process by requiring all new Facebook members to fill out a form and using that information county by county, organizing a spreadsheet of families in need. The Wine Fairies in each county can then pick a recipient closest to them. It’s Pay-It-Forward kindness on a grassroots level.
“We’ve raised enough money and presents to cover 24 families and 57 kids in Maine, but we still have 85 families in the queue that need more help,” she said.
Laughery said the Facebook group prohibits families from directly asking its members for help. Instead, all requests go through Laughery.
“I ask each family to send me information about what their kids need, want, and love and then I hand type in every family’s needs anonymously,” said Laughery. “Then I set up a post, asking our Fairies who can adopt a whole family, cover part of the holiday list, or even contribute to the Amazon wishlist for each child. Everything is between $5 and $10 and delivered directly to the parents. So, the item shows up at their door; they can wrap it up; and no one is the wiser that they got help.”
Asked what the most common items families are requesting right now, Laughery said: “Almost every request, believe it or not, are hats and gloves. For a state with such a cold climate, it’s crazy to think that the one thing the parents are reaching out for is winter gear for their kids.”
The lead up to the holidays is about an extra 20 hours a week on top of her Staples job. It’s sometimes an exhausting process.
“I don’t get much sleep,” she admitted. “But, I have a wonderful husband who stays home with the kids and two other Mom Fairies who are helping me.”
One of Laughery’s Fairies, Shannon Shannon Delisle-Harris likes to get really into character when she drops off the Christmas packages. She dresses up as The Grinch from Dr. Seuss’ storybook How the Grinch Stole Christmas! She has another Wine Fairy who dresses up like Cindy Lou Who.
“I didn’t expect the response we got when I started this group, but it has shown me how many people in Maine are willing to go out of their way to make someone happy,” said Laughery. “Brightening someone’s day and making someone happier is really important right now.”
To get involved with Wine Fairies of Maine and be part of their Christmas project to help 85 families, join their Facebook group and fill out the form once admitted to the group. They will take local donations up until Christmas Eve.
Laughery said once the holidays are over, they will go back to delivering their “dustings” of alcohol and goodies as they have before.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com