A backpack for school.
An elliptical after knee surgery.
A new pair of pants.
People are receiving the items they need most this holiday season, with the help of a Facebook post that went viral.
Avery resident Mike Masters decided to share the post on four of the top Facebook groups in Calaveras County and Sonora after seeing it on another page. He doesn’t know who wrote the original post, he said, but he wanted to see how it worked locally.
As a realtor and marketing manager for RE/MAX Gold in Murphys, Masters spends a lot of time scrolling through social media and is well aware of the good, the bad and the ugly.
“There is so much negative that you really have to disconnect,” Masters told the Enterprise. “It can kind of influence your mood and everything else. It can be overwhelming. Something positive that gets this much of a reaction is definitely a nice change.”
The popular post, which has spread to other local groups since Masters shared it on Dec. 10, invites members to list something they need but can’t afford during the holidays.
“Everyone check to see what others say,” the post reads. “Maybe you have it and don't need it or have a connection to get it.”
Masters said he did not anticipate the response his post would garner, with more than 900 people commenting within the span of four days.
“A Christmas tree (and) some ornaments,” one person wrote under the Valley Springs Bulletin Board post.
“I’ve got a bunch of lights and ornaments you’re welcome to,” someone responded just minutes later.
Hundreds more interactions followed on each of the pages, with strangers and friends alike filling the needs of their neighbors.
“A lot of them are looking for clothes, shoes, cars and auto repairs; beds, firewood stuff like that,” Masters said. “There’s a lot more people that need things than I realized. This has really opened my eyes to that. And from reading the responses, there are people on here that may not have very many things themselves, but are willing to share what they have.”
Due to his post, Masters and his wife and colleague, Sarah, were able to forge a connection of their own with a family that wanted a TV for their daughter. When the father arrived at their home to pick up the TV, Masters enjoyed a long conversation with him, and the pair bonded over their shared military background.
“It was really cool to be able to give them something that we weren’t using that would help benefit them,” Masters said.
Another poignant interaction that Masters said he observed was a former foster child asking for a family for her and her son, with whom the two could celebrate the holidays.
Masters said within minutes, two women responded, with one offering to be their grandmother.
“It was really neat to see her be that honest and that vulnerable, and to see the response that she got,” he said.
The overall impact of the post has not gone unnoticed, as many have commented just to share their gratitude and praise.
“This is the first time I have ever seen a post like this, and this is the best thing I think I have ever seen on social media,” said one grateful Valley Springs Bulletin member. “Because of this post, I might have found a friend in need.”
Masters says he has gotten requests to convert the post into a permanent page, but he believes part of what made the experiment so successful was its fleeting nature.
“I don’t know if it’s just the season,” he said. “I think it gave people an outlet to get people what they need. There’s a lot of people relating how it’s really hard for them. Some people are saying it’s really hard this year in general. … I think a lot of people, they don’t want to ask, and I think this afforded people a way to ask.”
Beyond the beauty of connections made, Masters hopes that the traveling post imparts his community with a lesson in the power of positivity and simply asking for what is needed.
“People want to help,” he said.