CHRISTMAS has come early for customers of a Bendigo toy store after an anonymous benefactor paid off the lay-bys of 82 complete strangers.
The generous gesture means 82 Toyworld Bendigo customers have been gifted an early and pleasant Christmas surprise, with the gesture aimed at alleviating financial hardship in the region.
At least one customer was moved to tears by the incredible generosity when contacted by store management.
A grateful parent posted to social media yesterday afternoon to express their gratitude for the act of generosity which came without expectation of anything in return.
Kangaroo Flat mother Crystal Berry said the generous gift from the donor had helped her enormously as she was isolating with her 3-year-old after he became a close-contact of a COVID-19 positive case.
She works at a cafe as a casual employee, and due to Centrelink arrangements is unable to access isolation support payments because she receives parental assistance.
"I really hope that the donor sees this article and understands how much it does mean especially at this time. It's such a lovely thing to do," she said.
"I can't really put into words how much it means."
Ms Berry said she was making $5-10 payments per fortnight for her lay-by purchases for her son and was worried about affording the gifts when she received a call from the store.
She said she had been in tears because of the kindness she had been shown and said she would pass on that generosity of spirit to the next person.
"I wish I could thank this amazing human being in person. I wish them all the happiness this world could give,'' Ms Berry said.
The Bendigo Advertiser understands the anonymous donor experienced financial hardships of their own at Christmas during their youth.
They have become more financially stable in recent years and simply wanted to help others who found themselves in the same situation.
Store manager Debra Delves said she rang a father of twin boys who said he had only $5 left in his bank account and didn't know how he was going to make the next payment.
"A lot of people who were called heard that we were ringing from Toyworld Bendigo and immediately said 'I know I need to make a payment - it's just really hard right now - but I will try to get the money' before I could tell them it had all been paid off,'' she said.
"Some of these presents had been for birthdays, as well as Christmas gifts.
"One lady said she was shaking so much because of the emotion of it that she had to pull over and get out of the car.
"People have been really overwhelmed."
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