A kind gesture has eased the financial burden of Christmas for shoppers at a Townsville toy shop, in north-eastern Queensland, after a generous stranger paid their lay-by balances.

Natasha Vidler said she was “in disbelief and shock” when she was told over the phone that $170 had been paid off her toy bill at Townsville Toyworld.

“I rang my husband and I was pretty much in tears, tears of happiness,” Ms Vidler said.

“We’re forever grateful. This time of year is a bit of a struggle for everybody, not only financially but mentally, emotionally.”

Though the toy store wouldn’t say what the gifts totalled, Ms Vidler said she was one of 20 customers who benefitted from the unknown woman’s kindness.

The mother-of-two has spent the last two weeks in hospital, and said the contribution would make this year’s Christmas that much more special for her family.

“Now the kids are going to have an extra-special Christmas thanks to some total lovely stranger,” she said.

Another recipient, Mark Jones, had been paying off presents for his children and granddaughter and said he was “blown away” by the gesture.

“I thought it was an absolutely brilliant gesture,” Mr Jones said.

The Townsville truck driver said he was being evicted from his rental crisis amid the city’s housing crisis, so every extra dollar made a difference.

“It’s been a bit of a tough year, not just for me but for everybody,” he said.

According to forecasting from the National Retail Association (NRA), Australians are set to spend a record $20.5 billion in the 10 days leading up to Christmas.

But the spending comes at a particularly challenging time for many families, with chief executive of the Queensland Council of Social Services Aimee McVeigh saying that 250,000 children had one or both parents relying on income support.

“These parents are having to choose between paying rent, food, electricity and medical bills, never mind Christmas presents,” Ms McVeigh said.

“While the unemployment rate might be lower than it was last year, there are more people than ever in Queensland who are relying on income support payments of just $45 a day.”

In Queensland alone, NRA chief executive Dominique Lamb said people are expected to spend $3.9 billion over the next 10 days.

“We’ve had our international borders closed, our domestic borders closed, people have been staying home and certainly saving their money,” she said.

“There seems to be a push for joy after what’s been a really long 18 months.”

Image: Getty Images

This article first appeared on Over60.