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A Facebook friendly Christmas miracle in East Memphis

How a family was able to turn a budget-friendly Christmas into a community-involved, gift-filled day.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — ‘Tis the season for kind neighbors and the power of Facebook. Caitlyn Gillilan and Clayton Smith just bought their first home together, but under somber circumstances, because Gillilan’s grandmother is sick.

“Well, she has bells palsy and that really affects her health,” Gillilan said. “But on top of that, they found some white spots in her brain so she’s in the hospital as of this weekend.”

Unfortunately, their move falls right around Christmas. The couple was able to make ends meet just enough to complete their daughter’s Christmas list, but not quite enough to fulfill their own. That’s when the Buy Nothing East Memphis Facebook community came together to make a Christmas miracle.

“I made a post and I showed him,” Gillilan said “I was like hey look, I did this for you. I know we’re going to have a tight Christmas because of the move and we have a 2-year-old.”

Credit: Caitlyn Gillilan

Little did she know, neighbors from all over Memphis would fill his list. 

Then he followed in her footsteps. Smith took screenshots of the small Christmas list Gillilan texted him, along with some other fun facts about her and posted it to the same Facebook page.

“Money’s been pretty tight and I wanted to get her something and get her something nice,” Smith said. “The way the community comes through in those groups is just amazing.”

After a full days worth of driving all over town to pick up gifts, Clayton’s fiancé saw exactly what he was up to.

“He didn’t map it out, so he was going to all these different houses and that’s how I noticed he was in the group (with the help of Find my iPhone),” Gillilan said. “I actually ended up asking about, like, 'how are you in this group?' I told him about it but I didn’t think he was actually going to join.”

And just like that, the community filled both of their Christmas wish lists just in time for the big day.

“It’s pretty awesome to see the community, it’s awesome to see how good people really are.”

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