How an eBay User Paid Empowerment Forward

Gabriel Flood, eBay User

Hear how a gift from eBay inspired one of our users to share the holiday spirit.

Editor’s Note: Over the 2015 holidays, eBay’s social media team reached an eBay user in need through Imgur’s Secret Santa gift exchange. This year, that same eBay user paid it forward with another Secret Santa surprise. Here are his reflections on the experience. This story originally appeared on Gabriel’s blog.

Two years ago, as the 2015 holidays approached, I was floundering. Lingering clouds of student loan debt smashing against a sudden front of cancer treatment payments (don't worry; I got better) erupted into a barren desert of unemployment. If all that wasn't enough, I had also only recently discovered that I was on the autism spectrum, and it turned out all my life's weird struggles had an explanation... Just one I didn't yet know enough about to even begin to decrypt. 

It was, to put it lightly, an “interesting” time in my life.

So naturally, I did something that wasn’t necessarily the most financially smart move at the time: I signed up for's Secret Santa gift exchange. In truth, what I wanted was hope, and I thought I might find some in the act of giving. What I found instead, though, was a miracle. Out of nowhere, I was paired with a member of the eBay team, who gifted me a veritable digital diamond: an eBay gift card for $500.

What I saw was a seed. It was hope I wanted, so I didn't blow that gift. I planted it carefully instead, nurtured its growth and, over the course of the next 11 months, bought and built a gaming PC piece by piece. From that $500 windfall (and the awesome power of the “patience + auctions” algorithm of life), I ultimately built a PC valued at about $950. Unexpectedly, other areas of my life began turning around for the better. The confidence I'd gained through eBay’s gift started self-sustaining in my efforts to succeed as a professional writer and public speaker.

Now as we approach the same event in 2017, eBay is empowering me all over again. I shared my story in October, and the eBay team reached out to me again, this time offering to put the miracle in my hands. This year, with the help of eBay, I was able to pay forward the same gift I received two years ago to another lucky Secret Santa. I couldn't be happier to do so.


I received my match's info a few days into December and started browsing for her gifts. My Secret Santa, Kayla, enjoys many of the same nerdy interests I do, so I found a framed print of her favorite video game (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess) and a Star Trek-based group board game to package in along with, you guessed it, an eBay gift card. I handwrote a letter, telling a short version of the story behind the partnership that had gone into creating her Secret Santa experience, and off the gift went in the mail.



May Kayla have the same positive, life-changing experience I had two years back.

Thank you, eBay. Sincerely.