April 2022

Satuturday 2 April saw us pack the fantastic sum of 340 backpacks for Mary's Meals.

Despite the current climate, this year's pack in many ways was no different from the past, as the enthusiasm to work together in fellowship in a common goal was as strong as ever. Our day was tinged with sadness though, as the project now comes to an end for the charity; understandably so, that with ever increasing costs to ship the backpacks, money would be better placed in feeding more hungry children through their already well-established feeding  programmes.

Packing the bags, then into the van for delivery. (Click on each photo to see in full.)

Our backpacks were picked up on Monday 4 April along with all remaining stock, which will be sold in Mary's Meals charity shops. The last of the donation money amounting to £100 was also handed over and we believe that this will go towards transport costs. Hopefully, the backpacks will be on their way to the children by July at the latest.

Alan and Cross, the van men from Mary's Meals, were themselves at times emotional about the project ending and both commented about the years they have been coming to Burns & Old.

Over the past 12 years, we have sent off approximately 2,418 backpacks, a fantastic number, beginning when the Sunday School wanted to help in a practical way at Harvest Thanksgiving to share with others.  As the project grew each year, so many more of you have become involved and have spent a considerable amount of time on the many tasks that have needed to be carried out in preparation before packing. It has been a wonderful team effort that has been made easy because of your willingness and enthusiasm to help and I know that this will carry us forward in the future as we find a new way to continue to support Mary's Meals.

I would like to thank our congregation and wider community who have donated items and money over the years, putting their trust in us to spend their money wisely in getting the best return for the children.

Today, we also want to take time to remember 2018, when we raised over £5,000 to feed a school in Zambia for the whole school year. Our Church and community have all been very generous to the charity and we know that you will continue to hold it in your heart.

On behalf of the 2,418 children who have received a backpack, providing some essential items for a hand-up in their education as well as a little bit of dignity in their every day lives, we want to say a final thank you for all your little acts of love in creating something very wonderful at Burns & Old.

Mary Paterson                                                                                                                10 April 2022

March 2022

Our large collection of backpacks and items that we have amassed over the past two years will finally be packed and uplifted during the month of April which is great news.

Sadly, and I am sure this will come as no surprise to many of you, Mary's Meals have decided to fold the backpack project completely. Daniel Adams, Executive Director of Mary's Meals has published a letter to all backpack supporters.

"I am writing to let you know that after much deep consideration we have taken the difficult decision to bring the backpack project to an end. We are very grateful to everyone who has supported this much loved project over the past 17 years. However, the context we have been working in since the beginning of the pandemic is very diffierent  from when the backpack project began. With greater logistic complexities and costs to bear that are unsustainable for our charity, our ability to reach desperately hungry children has always relied on simplicity and good stewardship at the heart of all we do and we have come to realise the backpack project unfortunately no longer meets those important aspects of our mission. We therefore must focus solely on feeding hungry children living in the world's poorest countries with a nutritious meal each school day."

I know that many of you will be sad to see the end of this project after the wonderful work that has been achieved in the past 13 years that we have supported the charity. Not only in bringing joy to hundreds of children in Malawi but also the positive impact it has had on us as a congregation in working together. As always we have to look at the bigger picture that the charity wishes to focus on in maintaining and reaching out to so many hungry children.

It is our intention to pack the last of the backpacks on 2nd and 3rd April with a view to getting them picked up a day or two later.  Could I please ask that if you have any outstanding items that you have collected for the backpacks that they are handed in by these dates.  Please contact me if you need assistance with this.  Thank you for continuing to buy with the charity in mind. I thank all of you too who have continued to hand in monetary donations this past while.  Any surplus items, as well as money which has not been used to purchase items to fill our final total of backpacks will also be passed onto the charity.

A final thank you to all in anticipation of your support in bringing this final backpack to fruition and for all you have done and given to the charity despite the circumstances we have found ourselves in these past two years.  So many little acts of love always add up to something quite wonderful.

Mary Paterson     16 March 2022