The holiday season is fast approaching, with many families around the world still struggling to survive in the midst of the deadly pandemic. Millions of hard working individuals have lost their livelihoods as harsh government mandates, forced lockdowns and mass firings have taken their toll on many families struggling just to pay the bills.
However, Christmas time, regardless of circumstances, should be a joyous occasion especially for children. And for 82 struggling families in the city of Bendigo, in Victoria, Australia, Christmas has come early this year. Thanks to an incredible random act of kindness by an anonymous elderly couple who paid off thousands of dollars worth of Christmas toys left on “lay-bys” (layaway).
According to Scott Mills, the owner of Toyworld, a popular toy store in Bendigo, an elderly couple walked into his store on Wednesday informing him they wanted to pay off the balance of those who couldn’t afford to buy the toys outright. They inquired about the exact number of customers who still had outstanding balances left on their purchases.
Mills informed the couple that there were currently 82 families struggling to pay off their purchases.
“They told us a story about how they were in hardship when they were younger and struggled to pay their bills ahead of Christmas,” Mr. Mills said.
“They always swore that if they ever found themselves in a position where they could help, they would. After the crap year we’ve all had, they wanted to do some good.”
However, the local couple insisted on remaining anonymous before they generously paid off all the Christmas toys. It included everything from dolls to remote control cars, costly items that struggling families paid off week by week, just in time for Christmas Eve.
“These are toys for families who don’t have the money to duck in and buy their children’s Christmas presents in one go. They are strugglers and they have to be organized. They come in every week and pay off a little bit,” Mr Mills said.
Scott Mills, who owns Toyworld in Bendigo, said the grandparents visited his shop on Wednesday morning and said they wanted to help those who were struggling. They then paid off the bills of 82 families. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/kC97ppD6Y6— Cass (@HuskyCass) November 4, 2021
According to the Victorian Council of Social Service, many marginal families within the Commonwealth of Australia will have a tough Christmas this year because of the cumulative impact of multiple government lockdowns and the scaling back of taxpayer-funded COVID-19 disaster payments.
“Frontline services are seeing a whole new wave of people coming in to access support for things they never needed support for, such as food and electricity bills,” the organization’s chief executive, Emma King, said.
Adding; “Do you put food on the table or do you put the lights on? Those choices are always magnified at Christmas time because people go without an awful lot so they can provide for their families.”
Thankfully, for at least 82 families, Christmas will be a bit brighter this year.
Toyworld Manager, Debra Delves, said she was given the “best job ever” to call the 82 families and tell them the good news.
Great to chat to passionate business owner and ANZ customer Scott Mills owner of Bendigo Toyworld – putting smiles on local kids faces for the past 15 years pic.twitter.com/71lXCpnPo1— Mark Hand (@mphand) July 27, 2018
“You don’t realize how much of an effect the last 12 months has had on these families,” she told the Daily Mail Australia.
“They said ‘you just don’t know how this has changed our Christmas and how much this means to us‘.”
One mother, who received the good news when she was driving, was forced to pull over as she burst into tears, crying uncontrollably.
Another recipient, a dad with twin boys, confided that he had just $5 left in his bank account. He worried that he wouldn’t be able to pay off the balance on his Christmas gifts or his twin son’s birthday.
Delves confided that a customer within the store, upon hearing the overwhelming generosity of the elderly couple, anonymously donated $100 to the dad, instructing him to take out his boys out for dinner on their birthday.
After acknowledging this random act of kindness, I can’t help but think about the opening line from Charles Dickens classic novel in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”