Rotorua's Phiona Parkinson is expecting Christmas this year to be very different from the last one, now she and her family have their very own Santa and assorted elves.
Since Parkinson's story featured in the Rotorua Daily Post highlighting the impact high rent has had on her family, she has been overwhelmed with offers of help including a $1500 gift from a Christchurch real estate agent who saw the story online.
Nick O'Styke from Bayleys Canterbury said he read the story and wanted to help. In an email he said he understood the struggle of rising rents and how tough things could be with a young and growing family.
"I am fortunate insofar as being able to enjoy Christmas and I would like you to," O'Styke wrote to Parkinson. "I do not expect anything in return, this is simply a goodwill gesture to you and your family from a good Kiwi."
O'Styke told the
Rotorua Daily Post
he hoped his gesture might inspire others to do the same if they were aware of someone who was struggling.
Parkinson described the gift as incredibly humbling.
"I shared my story in the hope it may prompt others in a similar situation to know it's okay to speak up and to ask for help if they need it. Nobody should ever feel embarrassed because they're struggling financially."
She said as well as the gift from O'Styke, she had received offers of food and clothes and toys for her children.
"I had a lady contact me and ask if it would be okay to send my son a gift for his first birthday and a lovely Rotorua family gave me some feijoas which was awesome as my kids love them."
Parkinson had also received several messages of encouragement for speaking publicly about her plight.
"So many people have said well done for telling my story but I think there are so many others dealing with the same stuff I am, it's just a story that needs to be told. I don't know what the solutions are but maybe talking about the problem will help."
In addition Parkinson has obtained more part-time work.
"Someone at a company I used to work for years ago saw the story and let me know there was an on-call position available so, as of Monday, I'm all signed up for that too."
She said the experience had reminded her about the good that was in our society.
"When I got the email from Nick I was in town. I read it and had to put my head down for a minute or two so nobody would see the tears in my eyes, it was a pretty overwhelming moment.
"I really do feel like we [my family and I] have our very own Santa and elves and I'm already looking forward to sharing Christmas with them all this year."