Neighbor's TikTok brings avalanche of holiday support for Detroit family

BySarah Michals, Kent Saunders, CNNWire
Monday, December 11, 2023
Neighbor's TikTok brings avalanche of holiday support for family
A Detroit man noticed his neighbor's family needed help. He posted their story on TikTok, bringing an avalanche of support.

DETROIT -- Just a neighbor.

That's all Donald Wilson was to Colin McConnell when McConnell noticed the dad of three seemed tired and beaten down this fall.

The two both live in a Detroit duplex. McConnell asked Wilson, "How's it going?"

"He told me that the kids are going to be around a lot more because their mother had passed," McConnell told WXYZ in Detroit. "And the kids were walking up the stairs at the time, I just saw their little legs and my heart just broke instantly. I wanted to do something more for them. And he said, 'We don't really have winter coats.' I thought he had three daughters because the son was wearing his sister's clothes - it was because he didn't even have clothes."

With Wilson's permission, McConnell did what he could. He made an Amazon wish list for the kids and posted it along with their story on TikTok.

McConnell said he thought maybe a hundred people would see it.

"I posted it, and I woke up the next morning and there were already boxes on my porch. I was like, 'What?!'"

Hundreds of boxes bought by people across the world are now showing up for the Wilson family in Detroit. Wilson said he never imagined so many people would reach out.

"I didn't think it would do that big and all of a sudden, it was thousands! I was like 'What! Oh my God!'"

The food donated has already been given to Donald Wilson's three kids: Honesty, Poetry, and Donald Jr.

At first, Wilson admitted that it was difficult to accept all the gifts.

"That was the biggest thing for me, not feeling like I'm able to do it, or I'm not capable to do it, but Colin made it easy. He made me feel at home, he made me feel like a brother, like family."

McConnell said, "I want him to feel that he's supported, not just by me but now, these kids have thousands of aunties and uncles all over the world."

Wilson and McConnell have now made a plan to have Santa come deliver most of the presents to the kids on Christmas. They are going to be donating some of the gifts to area nonprofits.

It will be Honesty, Poetry, and Donald Jr.'s first Christmas without their mom, but thanks to all this love from strangers across the world, Wilson said, "It's like she's here. It's like she's a guardian angel speaking to us from all of you."

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