Everyone knows Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and Cupid. But in South Jersey, the coronavirus has brought “beer fairies” out of the woodwork.
More than 3,300 people have joined a private Facebook group that facilitates alcohol gift exchanges between strangers. Members share their home addresses, and wait for a surprise delivery from another member. It’s called being “beer’d,” and afterward, the lucky recipient must return the favor to someone else.
So far, there have been hundreds of drop offs, said the group’s creator Angelia Taylor, 25. People have shared more than 1,000 photos of goodies they’ve gifted or found at their front door, usually booze and snacks packaged in a colorful bag or basket.
“It’s been so much fun seeing how excited people get over beer left on their porch,” said the Audubon resident. “It makes my heart happy that I can bring joy to someone.”
It all started May 5th, when Taylor got the idea from a similar wine-themed group in the area. The concept has taken off in other parts of the country too, from Maryland to Ohio. Taylor set up her own private Facebook group, called “Sisterhood of the Traveling Booze”, and invited only four close friends. Then, she made the first delivery.
Her fiance drove her to a friend’s home in Audubon Park, where she placed a six-pack of Yuengling on the porch and bolted. Taylor’s partner (and getaway driver) was waiting on the street for Taylor to jump back into their car.
“You’ve been beer’d,” read a note attached to the alcohol and signed in black Sharpie by the mysterious “Beer Fairy.”
“She called me and said ‘I think I just got beer’d already’ and I played dumb. She had no clue it was me,” Taylor said. “So then she beer’d somebody, that person went and beer’d two more people. It just kept evolving. It’s the best feeling seeing how much the group is growing.”
There are only four rules for joining: No men or anyone underage, you must be from South Jersey and no drama. They prefer people be invited by friends already in the group.
Photos of eight New Jersey counties were posted, and members share their addresses underneath the county they live in. That way, others can find people nearby to gift.
Lyndsay McKinney, a moderator who is active in the group, said she and three others parse through the nearly 100 requests to join that pour in each day to make sure they are women above 21 years old from the southern part of the state.
It’s a time-consuming job, McKinney said. She can filter the requests by age and gender, but only if a person shared those details on their profile. If not, McKinney said, she looks through their page and pays attention to other indicators of age, such as graduation dates or birthdays.
“There have been some underage people trying to join, but I had to deny them. If there’s any suspicions, we won’t approve them. We’ll usually message them and ask for some sort of proof just to be sure,” Taylor said.
For McKinney and Taylor, the activity has been a source of comfort.
McKinney lost her job as a warehouse worker last month, and has been taking care of her three-year-old twin boys since then. Taylor was also laid off from her accounting position on Tuesday after the company she worked for, which leased copiers to businesses and schools, saw a sharp drop in new contracts following COVID-19 closures.
Along with photos, some share the difficult situation they’re in amid the coronavirus. The page is dotted with personal stories: A bartender who lost her job, moms juggling child care and work, and even those grieving unexpected deaths.
“This has been very uplifting for everyone,” McKinney said. “It’s nice that people are opening up their lives to let (others) know you are not the only one and you’re not alone.”
Members have been targeting deliveries to people in need, from the recently unemployed and single moms to those who lost loved ones to coronavirus.
Taylor said she asked first responders to share their addresses, so people can give thanks to essential workers on the frontlines fighting the pandemic.
“It’s a way of saying thank you for your service,” Taylor said. “You don’t know these girls, but you feel like you’re in a sisterhood.”