Skip to main content

Midvale Journal

Hillcrest yearbook purchased from Savers is reunited with its owner after 32 years

Jul 30, 2019 04:29PM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart

A Class of ’87 Hillcrest High yearbook was reunited with its owner thanks to the power of the Internet. (Photo courtesy Michelle Cailynelena)

By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]

Michelle Cailynelena was shopping at Savers when she spotted a Hillcrest High School yearbook on sale for $1.99. She has no connection with the school, but impulsively purchased the yearbook anyway.

“It felt wrong to leave it there,” said Cailynelena, who had recently moved to Midvale and was looking for items to furnish her new apartment.

Cailynelena tried to find the yearbook’s original owner, Kelli Groomer, online but kept hitting dead ends. So, she took to Facebook, specifically the Midvale Residents public group page. Some commenters pitched in their advice, cheered Cailynelena on and even did some of their own detective work. Two people made comments on the Facebook page saying that they recognized Groomer and offered advice on how to find her.

Eventually, Cailynelena and a friend compared photos found online to the grainy, black and white image in the yearbook. They found who they thought was a match and messaged her over Facebook.

Then Cailynelena waited. She didn’t hear back for weeks until one day her daughter was checking out customers at Harmons and noticed a customer with the last name of Groomer. 

“My daughter recognized her last name and asked if she knew Kelli,” Cailynelena said. That person turned out to be Kelli’s sister-in-law. “I got a message from Kelli the next day and we arranged for her to get her book back. She was super happy but couldn’t figure out how it ended up at Savers.”

The used goods store in Midvale sells all kinds of second-hand items, but a find like Cailynelena’s is rare. “I’ve never seen a yearbook the whole time I’ve worked at Savers,” said Robert Garcia, store manager for the Midvale Savers. He has worked at the store for four years and has helped return many items to their rightful owners.

“Things get donated by accident about 10 times a day,” Garcia said. “Purses, keys, $10,000 in cash…we see it all. We have a good team that tracks down the owners to get the [mistakenly donated] items back to them.”

“I’ve lost all my belongings and would love to get at least my old yearbooks back,” Cailynelena said. “Pictures and memories aren’t replaceable.”