STONINGTON — It was sometime in the middle of the pandemic when Amanda Gaccione, a Pawcatuck mother of three daughters, started really missing her girlfriends.
Before the coronavirus protocols were put in place, she said, she would get together routinely with her girlfriends; for emotional support, conversation ... and always a nice glass of wine.
Now, everyone was in the same situation: stuck inside, juggling home-school oversight duties with all the usual responsibilities of raising children and running a household. No gatherings at the local watering hole, no chance to drink wine and catch up with pals.
Then she had what she calls "a crazy idea."
"I had a mom moment," said Gaccione, who found herself once again longing to be drinking wine with her friends and exchanging stories of the ups and downs of motherhood and raising children. "We women deserve so much appreciation, and we never get enough."
"I thought, what would be better than getting a bottle of wine from a friend," she said.
That's when the concept, Sisters that Wine, was born.
Gaccione went to her Facebook page and put it out to her group of friends. How many would be interested in joining a group where members would secretly choose a friend from a list — sort of like pulling a name from a hat — then head to the wine store, buy a bottle of wine and surreptitiously drop it off at the home of the friend she had chosen?
The idea took off, said Gaccione who posted sayings like "Wine a little, laugh a lot" on the Facebook site she created.
Women join the group after answering a few questions, then tell Gaccione if they want to wine or be wined. Members give Gaccione a list their of likes, dislikes, allergies and preferences, and their address. She then matches the request.
"I give you the address and then you buy a bottle of wine or make a basket and you drop it off on the doorstep of the person you have chosen," she explained.
"It's a pay-it-forward type of thing," she said, noting that some members have been creative and have designed extra-fun baskets and packages.
"I've seen everything from a bottle of wine to four bottles of wine, to baskets with little nips and candy to one with garden tools and wine. One even had a little toy added in, and there are options for women who don't drink, too.
So far, more than 125 baskets made and delivered, she said, and the "heart and thought" going into the creation "is really great."
"In this crazy unsettling world we live in at the moment, it’s so nice to be a part of this group," one member posted. "Keep spreading the love."
"A lot of people just need someone to be kind to them today," posted another.
"It's not the receiving," Gaccione added."It's more about the giving."
"It blew up," she said. "All of a sudden we had five hundred members."
"We originally kept it to friends of friends," said the mother of Alexandria, 14, Addison, 4 and Willow, 1. Gaccione said she had began in the greater Westerly-Stonington area, but is now she's getting requests from women as far away as Providence.
Gaccione said she presently has a waiting list of 150 and adds a few every day to keep it manageable.
Brittany Tassias, of Pawcatuck, the mother of a seven-year-old girl, said she looked out her window one day and saw something "really cool" sitting on her porch.
"It was a happy basket," said Tassias. "It made me feel super special."
"The group is so cool," she added. "It's awesome ... it's a nice pick me up."
Tassias said the woman who makes the delivery typically snaps a photo of the gift basket or bottle of wine and posts it on the Sisters that Wine Facebook page.
"I've been getting like five hundred messages a day," said Gaccione with surprise. "I've never seen so many women so happy about something."
"It's just a little something to lift the spirits," she added.
"It's funny," mused Gaccione. "You always hear that it's hard to please women. It's not. I proved it."