Lois Hayes, 66, may have retired from her career at an elementary school, but she hasn't forgotten her former students.
Every week the Lexington, Miss., resident rolls through an index of cards with past students' names and birthdays. And every week, she sends out a handful of handwritten, personal birthday notes for the upcoming birthdays -- about 400 each year, MSNBC's The Daily Nightly reports.
Hayes says the tradition began when she decided she wanted her students to know they were "special." "It brings back memories to think of them, and what they were like when I taught them," she says.
“When I retired, I really was afraid we would not be able to send cards anymore,” Hayes told the news source. “I buy the cards by the box and it has never been a problem, coming up with the postage or buying the cards. The Lord has provided for us, so it has been a joy to be able to do it.”
Hayes isn't the only one to get a bit of joy out of the birthday cards. Her former students continue to be inspired by their teacher -- including Jessica Donald, who eventually became a teacher herself.
“When I see my former students out I always try to give them a smile, or a big old hug if they’re willing,” Donald told The Daily Nightly. “I try to keep up with their lives… it’s never too late. I may pick up the tradition of sending them birthday cards.”
"When I got older and parents started telling me how their child was still getting a card in their 20s, I realized how special it was ... You don’t get cards in the mail anymore," says Hayes' daughter Natalie McKinley, 33.