Finding the perfect gift for your child's teacher at Christmas can be a nightmare for some parents and for others, an added financial stress that they just don't need.
Last week, Steff Ravenhall's daughter returned from her school with a letter suggesting a wonderful alternative to teacher gifts and we think it is absolutely brilliant.
Instead of spending money on a bunch of flowers, wine, chocolates or a 'best teacher' mug, the deputy principal and teacher at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided School in Stanley has refused gifts asked parents to consider making a small donation to a local family in need this year.
In a letter addressed to parents and caregivers, primary school teacher Louise Gardiner explains how she will be sending home blank envelopes with the children from her class in the coming weeks and would be asking parents to donate no more than £2 to help a family in need in their area.
Mrs Gardiner wrote: "At this time of year there can be pressure from children to buy their teacher a gift."
"I would like to take the opportunity to say while I am always really grateful for parents’ kind generosity I would like to reduce your stress a little and ask that you don’t buy me a gift. I thoroughly enjoy teaching your children and my job is a pleasure to do."
"This half term we are focussing on money in maths and the real meaning of Christmas in our RE lessons."
"With this in mind, I would like the children to be involved in the social responsibility of giving and kindness and plan to support a local family."
"I will be sending blank envelopes home with the children, in which if you would like, you can place a donation (no more than £2). Please don’t put any names on this. The envelopes are to be returned by Monday 9th December where the children will count up the money and shop for the items they think a family would need."
"This also helps them with their understanding of different food groups and luxury items!"
"If your child still feels they want to bring something else in, a handmade card or picture would be lovely."
Following the post that has since gone viral, Steff, mum to seven-year-old Harriet from Annfield Plain said she thought the whole idea was very heartwarming.
She told Chronicle Live: "I just thought it was really heart-warming, and it obviously takes the pressure off because you do worry about getting the teachers a present at this time of year."
"My daughter has been to a few different schools and it's always a topic of conversation for the parents, who are getting something, who is not going to bother, how much they're spending. Everyone just wants to get it right."
"The bit that got me the most was the fact that it was going to a local family. It's an important age, in year two, to be learning about the value of money, which is a really important lesson as well. And it teaches them that it's not just about receiving, it's about giving back."
"I've never seen another school do anything like this, lots of teachers will say to you 'oh, don't bother', but actually getting a letter saying 'here's what you can do instead' and there is a lesson kids are learning at the same time, that's what's really good about it."
In a few short days, the post has been shared over 9,000 times gaining attention across the world with many parents hoping other teachers will copy her idea.
One mum said: "This is an amazing idea and I wish other schools would do this."
While another wrote: "What a lovely thought, purely selfless. Well done Mrs Gardener, you are an inspiration."
A third said: "That's so beautiful, teaching children true values."