Two Manawatu families won't have to struggle through Christmas this year thanks to an incredible gesture from FMG Insurance.
Together with Te Aroha Noa community services organisation, FMG surprised the deserving families on Tuesday with Christmas parcels and gifts including linen, activity passes, vouchers, scooters, games, Lego, clothing, homewares, kitchen appliances and pamper packs.
"Six months ago FMG contacted me to see if I had any whanau who had made big changes in their lives and deserved to have their Christmas covered," said Te Aroha Noa Hippy co-ordinator Jodie Matenga Phillips.
She explained the two women selected had battled a lack of confidence, social isolation and had low level education.
But they immersed themselves in courses covering self-esteem and te reo Maori, Computer in Homes and they recently graduated from a 60-week Hippy education programme alongside their children.
"These women are incredible role models not only to their children, but the whole community. They put their hands up to do all these things, set themselves a goal and achieved it."
Insurance firm team leader inbound Trina Cornelius said the FMG Spirit initiative had been a work in progress since July.
"We've approached businesses for donations and received a lot of things for the families, from Flipcity to the Mad Butcher. We've run bake sales, quiz nights, a fish'n'chip day - to collect more money for these families to have a great Christmas."
Overwhelmed recipient and solo mother Cherie Henson said she couldn't find the words to express what it meant to her.
But her 6-year-old son Anton summed it up well.
"This is the best Christmas ever!"
Beverly Hunter fought back tears as she told the Manawatu Guardian how hard Christmas usually was.
"I was just thinking that Christmas was almost here, and I still hadn't organised anything. This is such a relief. Now I don't have to worry."
Her son Brett couldn't wipe the smile from his face.
"Thank you, thank you so much. I will never forget this Christmas ever."