Cárta eases the birthday burden

SICK to death of having to fork out hundreds of euro every year on birthday presents for your child’s classmates?

A novel initiative from a school on the outskirts of Cork city has won huge praise from local parents.

Ballinora National School, its parents association and the parish council set up a new initiative, called Cárta, about 18 months ago — aimed at reducing the cost of birthday presents.

Flyers were sent to all parents requesting they put just €5 into birthday cards. The scheme has since been extended to First Communions and Confirmations.

The €5 plan was a relief for hard-pressed parents as, depending on the school, parents can be expected to put as much as €20 into birthday cards.

And parents of younger children can find invitations for up to 20 class birthday parties each year — meaning parents may have to fork out up to €400 per year, before they even buy their own children’s birthday and Christmas presents.

Parents association chairwoman Margo Buckley said they have received “a great response from parents” at the 307-pupil school in Waterfall.

“Parents have been delighted and everyone is co-operating. It has made a big difference to parents, particularly in the younger classes, as you could end up buying 24 presents over the school year.

“The children took a while to get used to the idea but now they like the idea of getting money and buying one big present from their classmates,” she said.

The Cárta initiative, she said, began as parents were finding birthday parties a financial headache and because they felt the endless presents weren’t being valued by children.

“There was no real value in all those presents and we were worried the parties were becoming all about the presents rather than celebrating your birthday with friends,” she said. “Cárta, we hope, has made birthdays more meaningful.”

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