Albion Park’s Renee Onley lives week to week, hand to mouth. December is no different. Except December is when Christmas comes round.
As a single mum on a pension, there is no savings fund to dip into for presents. Her children have "some health difficulties and social issues", so any spare cash pays for speech therapists, pediatricians, psychologists and other medical expenses. There are weeks when there's barely enough money left for groceries.
But Renee's three girls - six-year-old Violet and four-year-old twins Scarlette and Jayde - will not go without this Christmas, thanks to the generous work of Facebook group Paying it Forward Wollongong (PIF).
"Christmas is a tough time for most families, even if both parents are working," Renee said.
"The toy hampers give my children joy. It allows them to receive something that I simply couldn't afford."
This will be PIF's fifth year distributing free hampers to Illawarra parents doing it tough, bringing a little Christmas magic to more than 300 underprivileged children, using toys donated by members of the group's 12,000-strong social media following.
Some of those members give, others receive a helping hand, and there are those, like Renee, who do both depending on personal circumstances.
The global 'pay it forward' initiative took off in 2000, thanks to a hit Haley Joel Osment movie with the tagline: "When someone does you a big favour, don't pay it back... Pay It Forward."
It was this desire to lavish good deeds on strangers that led to a Wollongong chapter of PIF.
In 2014, following the devastating stillbirth of their son Malachi, Illawarra couple Kaz Lewis and Mick Verco set up a local page to allow Wollongong residents to benefit from the same random acts of kindness that helped them through their darkest hour.
"We started PIF after losing my son to a chromosome disorder," Kaz said.
"My family found support via social media before and after Malachi's passing, so we turned to social media to give back."
The group quickly exploded to become one of the largest not-for-profit community organisations in the region, bringing people in need together with those in a position to help. Members post a call out for an item they're in desperate and urgent need of - anything from nappies to furniture - and someone will jump in and give them what they need, if they can.
It's a finely tuned operation and, apart from a week-long shut-down over Christmas, a non-stop endeavour.
The PIF team - Mick, Kaz and their two daughters Trinity and Lily Rose, Janet, Jenny, Kelly, Stacey, Sharon, Sam, Karen, Cathy and Annamaria - follow a roster system of "bumping" posts to the top of the Facebook page so that no appeal for help goes unanswered.
On top of moderating the page and providing Christmas toys, the PIF crew puts together food hampers, school starter packs, emergency nappy and formula supplies, dignity packs, and a collection for homeless people during winter.
For Kaz and Mick, the group's daily triumphs have served to honour their boy's memory and "give meaning to his short existence".
But this is social media, and with the good comes the bad - and there's been a torrent of that over the years.
There are extraordinary days when a Wollongong resident will give someone they don't know a car. Yes, a car. Then there are days when the police get called.
Oddly, one of the major causes of conflict between members of the public and the administrators has been the reasonable, completely cost-free expectation that good manners be used.
"All we ask is that people say 'please' when asking and 'thank you' when receiving as it is the least a person can do to pay respect to the exchange of kindness," Mick said.
"Unfortunately, this has been a bridge too far for many and has resulted in all manner of tantrums, childish behaviour, abuse, even death threats and police intervention."
"They think that we are just a free Facebook group," explains Kaz, of the lack of respect and basic etiquette that causes the majority of flair-ups.
"But we're not. We are providing a service to those in need just like some of the big charities. We just operate fully on social media.
"My address is well known, which gets scary when threats are made, but I also worry about my team as their addresses are known too.
"I try to take the brunt of the bad things because I created the group and I try so hard to stand up for my team."
Running the group has its intrinsic rewards but can be a largely thankless - and expensive - job.
Much of PIF's daily tasks go unnoticed - answering never-ending enquiries and providing a sympathetic ear to members in need of help chief among them.
"The current climate in Wollongong is pretty pitiful. The housing market is ridiculous, the job market is limited and so many businesses are closing on a daily basis," Kaz said.
"I often get messages where members just need to vent or have some one just to talk to, and we have a community services admin who is awesome when it comes to helping members access other services."
Despite the crucial service it provides to the community, PIF was recently knocked back for charity status, a decision that punishes the group for their core principles of trust and transparency.
Unlike most charities, PIF does not require recipients to fill out forms and show financial records and Centelink documents in order to receive help.
"We applied (for charity status) but were refused because we don’t make people prove they are in need,” Kaz said.
"Plus you don't need to be on Centrelink to receive help from us. Working families are just as much in need due to mortgages, childcare and health."
Kaz said the group was left "gobsmacked" by the decision but didn't have the means to hire legal experts to fight it.
"So now we still follow rules but we are self-funded," she said.
"We get absolutely no funding but account for everything we give and collect. We keep extremely good records.
"Admins pay for food for pantry hampers, toys, school supplies, sleeping bags, tents and we all contribute to the campaigns.
"I pay liability insurance of $77 a month, Mick pays storage, Janet pays our business-organisation name ... It's not cheap, but we all do it to help make the group a successful, helpful place."
But none of the pressure, negativity or financial stress will matter on Saturday, when hundreds of Illawarra families descend on Kaz and Mick's home in Lake Heights to pick up the toy hampers and celebrate Christmas, Paying it Forward style.
Families are invited to sit on the front lawn to socialise and enjoy a free sausage sizzle, drinks and professional photos with Santa. Secondhand toys are free to take and kids can choose a present for mum and dad from a table of gifts.
It's a massive operation - one that will begin in the early hours of the morning and keep them on their toes late into the night - but undoubtedly the highlight of the PIF crew's year.
On Christmas Day - as Renee's three children tear open their Christmas gifts in Albion Park - Kaz, her senior team and two daughters will be at Wesley Community Church, spreading good cheer with a visit from Santa and a sack full of gifts.
And they'll do it for Malachi - turning their time of darkest grief into a chance to help others who really need it.