AN ACT of kindness from a Bendigo secret Santa caught the nation's attention last week, prompting a wave of generosity which has brightened the Christmas season for many local parents.
The Bendigo Advertiser reported that an anonymous benefactor had paid off the lay-bys of 82 complete strangers at Toyworld Bendigo.
Since then a flood of other donors have contacted the store to add to that tally, paying off even more lay-bys, as well as contributing vouchers and placing toys under the giving tree.
Store manager Debra Delves said the story had spread around the country and the store had been inundated with offers of help.
It was expected a total of 100 lay-bys would have been paid off by anonymous donors by tonight.
"The momentum is now slowing down since last Thursday (when the story first appeared),'' Ms Delves said.
"It was such a positive, uplifting thing for Bendigo. You could tell everybody was excited about it."
Ms Delves said some callers had offered to contribute money over the phone, while other people had walked into the store with cash to contribute to lay-bys for parents they would never meet.
The wave of kindness was started by a pair of anonymous grandparents who experienced financial hardship in the lead-up to Christmas in their younger years.
They decided that if they were ever in a position to help others they would do so and have now reached a stage when they can.
Ms Delves said their act of kindness had inspired many other people to drop off a mix of vouchers for Toyworld and other stores to be passed on to those people on the lay-by list.
The Christmas display, which was assembled only a week ago, now has a large stack of donated gifts under its branches.
Ms Delves said many people who had received help via the lay-by scheme were eager to pay the gesture forward.
Ms Delves said one woman, whose gifts had been paid off anonymously, chose to place double that amount of toys under the tree for others this Christmas.
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