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North Branford friends create ‘The Sisterhood of Traveling Surprises’ to spread joy during pandemic

New Haven

NORTH BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — With encouragement from her twin sister, Megan Shea, of North Branford, put together “The Sisterhood of Traveling Surprises.”

The group, which is made up of women from both North Branford and Northford, surprise each other in the form of a gift basket.

“It’s all women,” Shea said. “I also have another group just to surprise kids, but for this group, the ladies kids have been joining in as well.”

The group is just a couple of weeks old but has grown to more than 450 members. One of them is another North Branford resident, Alicia Celone.

“We just need a little positivity with everything going on right now,” she said. “I reached out to her, [Shea] I said, ‘Hey, what if we tried doing a spreadsheet?'”

The members put their information into the spreadsheet, and people can pick and choose who they want to gift. It’s a total surprise. Interestingly, the person sending the gift doesn’t always know the person they are gifting.

“We’ve been encouraging people to pick someone they don’t know, just because that makes it a little more fun,” Celone said. “You can give to your friends at any time, but giving to someone that you don’t know in the community…there’s just something special about that.”

The baskets contain various gifts, including cards, chocolate, wind chimes, toys for kids, wine and flowers.

“It’s completely contactless, so we just leave it on the front porch,” Celone explained. “Usually, by the end of the day, everybody who received a gift that day will post their picture with a little thank you note saying how appreciative they are. It’s been really positive; everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.”

For months now, we’ve all been consumed by the coronavirus. For this group of women, the sisterhood of traveling surprises is a welcome diversion.

“It helps me keep my focus on something other than the virus,” Shea said.

“We’ve had a lot of people who have never met before gifting each other and becoming friends out of it,” Celone added.

Shea said we could all get to a better place, we just need some encouragement sometimes.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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