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October 2021

Our appeal to support Mary's Meals Backpack Project once again made a welcome return to our Church life earlier this year.

Despite our circumstances, the support we have received from our congregation as well as friends outwith the community has been as strong as ever. Many of you have dropped off donations or passed them on anonymously and they have found their way to us. As well as the many items donated, £752.50 of monetary donations was also collected. This is a fantastic amount. We thank you very much for all your generosity.

The current climate threw up a lot of challenges for us when we were shopping for certain items this year and, in particular, we needed back packs. Thankfully, (we held our nerve!) and we were rewarded in locating good quality backpacks at a much reduced price and along with some donated backpacks, we have the wonderful total of 273 backpacks to fill.  Thanks to your generosity, we only have toothpaste to purchase to complete this amount and as we currently have £250 in the "purse", we will manage this successfully. As always, we continue to keep an eye out for any bargains and I am sure that this total will continue to rise until we can have the backpacks uplifted.

Sadly, just as we were about to fill the backpacks and arrange for their transportation, the Charity announced that they have had to suspend the project "Due to supply challenges affecting the global shipping industry and higher associated costs" ... they "are currently unable to transport donated backpacks to Malawi."

This is a blow more for the children who would be looking forward to receiving them than to us in completing the task. The goods are currently stored in the print room and at the earliest opportunity, will be picked up by the charity when things resume.  In the meantime, Mary's Meals have come back to us and said "Thank you so much for your understanding and to the entire congregation for their incredible support as always."

We will keep you posted with any changes to the situation.

In getting to this point of the project, it is as always, a wonderful team effort. This year in particular, tasks have been taken on at home rather than us working at the Church. I am indebted to everyone who has donated, sorted, washed, filled, sewed and shopped all in the name of Mary's Meals. Even the most mundane tasks have all been met with enthusiasm and a keenness to help and it is this spirit that carries us through times like these.

So many helping hands and, in the words again of Magnus McFarlane-Barrow, Mary's Meals founder and Chief Executive, who has said in the past, "Mary's Meals is a series of lots of little acts of love. If you put all those acts of sacrifice together it creates a beautiful thing".

Thank you once again for all your "little acts of love" and creating something beautiful at Burns and Old.

Mary Paterson             25 October 2021

September 2021

As detailed in the last issue of Contact, we are currently accepting donations to fill back packs for Mary's Meals. We would gladly accept anything that is on the list but in particular, toothpaste, soap and notebooks to complete the backpacks which we have. We will continue to do this just now despite having heard from the charity recently that sadly "Due to supply challenges affecting the global shipping industry and higher associated costs" ..... they "are currently unable to transport donated backpacks to Malawi".

When things do pick up again, we will be ready to send nearly 250 backpacks. This is a great achievement under the circumstances. 

Thank you to everyone again so far who has donated items and money as well as helping to prepare items for the backpacks.

Mary Paterson             27 September 2021

August 2021

We are once again able to support the charity "Mary's Meals" through their backpack project, which has thankfully been reinstated. This is a wonderful opportunity to help primary aaged children who do not have access to the most basic supplies for every day living. The project provides a backpack filled with stationery, clothing, flip-flops, toiletries, a towel, a spoon and a tennis ball for a child in Malawi who attends a school where they are fed a daily meal in partnership with Mary's Meals.

Thank you to everyone who has continued to store, collect and also donate money and items these past 18 months despite not having a date to move forward on until now.

I am grateful to all the volunters who have offered to take on the tasks at home of 'detagging', sorting and counting items which we often do as a group. Although it is not the same as us being together to do these jobs like everything else this past while, we have adapted and have found a way through in order to bring about a successful outcome while keeping everyone safe.

More than ever, these little acts of love have a way of bringing us together even in these unprecedented times.

If you wish to donate to the Backpack Project, there is a full list below of the necessary items; those marked with an * are items which we know at this stage we are in need of. Any monetary donations that we receive wll be use to buy items that we find ourselves short of as sorting goes on. We are more than happy to receive good condition second-hand items where appropriate.

Thank you again everyone for continuing to support the charity.

Mary Paterson

* Toothbrush

* Towel

* Coloured pens

* Rubber

* Ruler

* Tennis ball

* Sharpener

* Pencils (plain and coloured)

MM Dress & Stationery

* T-shirt/shorts/dress (boy or girl age 4-12)

* Flip-flops/sandals (boy or girl size 13 - adult 5)

* Backpack (child or adult)

* Pencil case

* Notepad

* Toothpaste

* Bar of soap

* Spoon

February 2021

Thank you to those of you who donated to Mary's Meals over Christmas and the New Year period towards their "Double the Love" campaign. The charity as always, continues to ensure that children still receive their daily meals while learning at home.

It is understandable at the moment that there is no movement on back pack distribution. The most recent update from our contact, Thomas Black, at the charity reads:

"We are still unable to take back-packs at the moment. This situation hasn't changed since we were last in conversation in September. We still have trouble around storing back-packs here and in distributing them in Malawi, but we will be in touch when this changes.  At the moment, we are focusing on our Ethiopia Crisis Appeal.  Mary's Meals has launched an emergency appeal for aid for Tigray in Ethiopia, where millions have been forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict there which has been ongoing since November. The UN has described it as a very severe situation with around 4.5million people without food and basic supplies and many children separated from their families, living in refugee camps on the borders. Fortunately Mary's Meals are already established in Ethiopia and were previously feeding 24,300 children in schools every day. This means that Mary's Meals have an established and trusted partner agency in the area and are therefore able to get help to those who need it most. In other words, we are already giving aid and saving lives.  I'd be delighted if you wanted to share this news in your parish."

If anyone wishes to donate, they can do so through the Mary's Meals webpage or directly to: Mary's Meals, Craig Lodge, Dalmally, Argyll, PA33 1AR.

Thank you to everyone who continues to remember Mary's Meals and we will keep you posted on any developments with regards to the Back Pack Project.

Mary Paterson



Join Gerard Butler on an incredible journey!

Journey with Gerard on this heart warming adventure to find out what happened when he swapped the bright lights of Hollywood for classrooms in Haiti and Liberia.

Through our film, you can travel with him as he meets some of the communities we serve, see our work in action and find out why Love Reaches Everywhere. Please note this film was created before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Click on the link Love Reaches Everywhere for a very informative and heart-warming film about Mary's Meals.

2020 Mary's Meals - Mission of Love

Kilsyth Burns & Old Parish Church is sponsoring 325 pupils (154 boys and 171 girls) at Chambawa School in Zambia.  Thank you for ensuring that Mary's Meals can provide them with a nutritious daily meal in their place of education.

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Zambia suffers from high rates of malnutrition, poverty and food insecurity, with many children out of school.  For those children who are able to go to school, more than one million attend classes hungry.  Since Mary’s Meals began serving meals in Zambia in 2014, the programme has expanded rapidly.  We now feed more than 92,000 children in the country! 

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Chambawa Primary School now has 324 pupils enrolled, including 154 boys and 170 girls.  The children at Chambawa Primary School range from Standards 1 to 8. There are 2 permanent classrooms at the school and the pupils are taught by a total of 3 teachers. The school’s water source is a hand pump in the school grounds, which is very close to the kitchen, and there are 6 pit latrine toilets on site that are split evenly between the boys and girls. In addition to a maize garden, the school has a football pitch and a netball court for the children to use.

Chrispin, 11, says that the porridge he receives from Mary’s Meals helps him to concentrate in class.

He told us: “We eat porridge at break time, it helps me to get through the day. I come to school because I want to learn and find a job to support my family".

November 2020

For the past 11 years now we have donated back packs filled with stationery, toiletries and clothing to the charity "Mary's Meals" as part of our Harvest Thanksgiving.

We believe that in having plenty, we should share with those who have so little. Sadly, due to the pandemic, the Charity had to suspend the back pack deliveries because of hygiene restrictions. Until the distribution chain is re-established, the Glasgow warehouse is unable to accept any new donations. Despite this, we are grateful to all those who keep an eye out for the bargains and also those who continue to collect and hold items for a future packing day. We all look forward to the day when Burns & Old is once again a hive of activity in creating the many little "Acts of Love" which we talk about.

It is encouraging to read that the charity has found new methods of food distribution to still reach children despite schools being closed. To quote Mary's Meals: "We're helping communities stay safe by distributing soap, sharing hand washing guidelines and introducing hygiene stations at our food collection points". As one grateful parent in Zambia said "Since schools closed due to Covid-19, it has not been easy for me as a parent. I'm grateful to Mary's Meals for distributing food. So far, I've collected rations three times and am managing to feed my children". Heart-warming news indeed.

The Charity is grateful for any donations received and from now until 31 January, the Government will match public donations, up to £2million. It costs £15.90 to feed a child for a year through the Charity.

CEO and founder of Mary's Meals, Magnus McFarlane-Barrow, has recently published a new book entitled "Give: Charity and the Act of Giving Generously". Magnus says "Charity is the best thing about us as humans. How we practice charity defines us as individuals. The way we encourage and foster it will shape the future of our societies. Acts of charity let light into the world. That is more obvious when they take place in the dark ...the new darkness that has covered the earth since I wrote "GIVE" has of course been met by an explosion of new acts of charity. All over the world, little fires of goodness sparkle beautifully - and it's true that these small acts find a way to illuminate even the gloomiest of places."

Thank you for your acts of charity in keeping the light of Mary's Meals illuminated during these dark times. The Charity has asked me to express their gratitude for the dedication and hard work which the Church carried out in their name and they will let us know when circumstances change.  Thank you again

Mary Paterson

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"I love porridge it helps me concentrate in class. It gives me energy cause sometimes I come on an empty stomach. Last year I came in position 9 out of more than 30 pupils. I want to become a Teacher when I am done with school"

- Rachael Banda, 13 years, Grade 5 


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"Porridge fills me up and it gives me energy. Last year I came out number 6 out of more than 20 pupils. I want to become a teacher when am done with school so that I can teach other children. My favourite subject is Mathematics"

- Masauso Phiri, 14 years, Grade 6



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Quotes from the school:


"The program has helped improve attendance, enrolment and pupils are active in class after taking porridge. Pupils look more healthy with the coming of the program than before"  -  Shawa David, Teacher


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"I come to cook so that our children can have food whilst at school, Porridge gives our children energy and they look healthy"

- Catherine Banda, Volunteer Cook


Message from Mary Paterson, Mission Group:


I wanted to share this update with you all at an appropriate service in the new year. Now is as good a time as any to have some uplifting news and see the worthwhile fruits of all our fundraising efforts. I am sure you will take pride in knowing that you have helped create these  wonderful smiles on the children's faces together with the comments from staff and helpers to remind us of how worth while the fundraising was.

Despite the current situation, it is heart warming to read that children are still being fed through the feeding programme. I have been following the current work of Mary's Meals in these challenging times online and would like to share some of Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow's ( Mary's Meals CEO) message dated 10th May . . . 

"If someone had said nine weeks ago that by now we would have reinvented our delivery models, agreed them with governments and found a way to keep feeding nearly all the children of our programme I don’t think I would have believed them...  In some ways it feels like many things, that might otherwise have taken years to develop, have been achieved in these few short weeks. But we cannot stand still.  These incredible feats would just not have been possible without your support.  After all these years I cannot claim to understand fully the wonder of Mary's Meals but I do know now, more deeply, that these little acts of love - your little acts of love - are not little at all.  Each one has ramifications that ripple across oceans and down through generations.  They are making the lives of countless children and families so much better and, together, they are pointing to something much bigger than us all.  In my message on Easter Sunday I described us as being like those children in Africa who bring a little stick each morning to school to contribute to the fire that cooks the porridge.  The fire that is Mary's Meals has certainly not gone out!  Rather it is blazing much brighter than ever, dispersing gloom and illuminating this prolonged night until dawn comes, and that dawn will indeed come".

Uplifting  thoughts indeed.

With the main focus on feeding the children and schools being closed, backpack distribution is on hold in the meantime. I have been asked if we can keep our items and pick up again once the Glasgow warehouse (and us!) is operational. Thank you to those of you who have already donated items this year and we look forward to the day when we can come together in friendship and fellowship around the tables in the Church Hall  and create once again our own "Little Acts of Love." 

 In the meantime, thank you for your continuing support for Mary's Meals.

God Bless and stay safe.

Mary Paterson 



Our annual bag packing fundraiser for Mary's Meals was once again a resounding success. Every item and penny donated was used or spent wisely to ensure that we could send as many backpacks as possible to children who so desperately need a hand-up in life with their education. Your generosity was tremendous and allowed us to pack 370 backpacks.

The support we received from our congregation as well as friends and friends of friends out with the community has been as strong as ever.  Heart-felt thanks for supporting us  again.

Thank you to everyone who sorted and made ready the contents of the back packs over the past year. This made filling the backpacks so straightforward on the day.

Thanks too, to the boys and girls of the Sunday School who joined in the packing. And to everyone who stayed on after Church and joined the assembly line of packers - thank you. It was great to see so many new faces among the familiar ones.

The back packs were stacked in the Church to form part of our Harvest Thanksgiving and were uplifted by the charity on Tuesday 8 October. The unspent monetary donations were used to buy out-of-season goods (at bargain prices) over the following months, ready for the next year.

As ever, at a time of year when we see the back packs stacked up in church, we reflect on the fact that working together as a team can achieve so much. Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow (Mary's Meals CEO) has said in the past "Mary's Meals is a series of lots of little acts of love. If you put all those acts of sacrifice together, it creates a beautiful thing." We have created 370 "little acts" of our own love and that indeed is a beautiful thing.

Once again, "thank you" does not quite cover it for all the donations, time and effort so willingly given but on behalf of everyone involved - THANK YOU.

Items required for backpacks:


Shorts & t-shirts/dresses (age between 4-12 years)

Flip-flops/sandals (up to adult size 5)

Pencil Case, Lead Pencils, Coloured Pencils, Pens, Ruler, Rubber, Pencil Sharpener, Notebook 

Bar of Soap, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Towels

Tennis Balls, Spoon

      (The Mary's Meals Team are delighted to receive donations at any time throughout the year)



What a wonderful afternoon of music and variety everyone enjoyed on Saturday 6 October in the Church Street hall.  Our Choir had offered to raise funds for Mary's Meals Mission of Love project and the concert they produced wasn't just a great success but also a wonderful showcase for home-grown talent and a celebration of all that is good in Burns and Old.

Intro with Thomas

Our grateful thanks must go to the ladies of the Choir, supported by James our organist, not only for their lovely musical contribution but also for all their hard work arranging such a varied and artistic programme.


As to the additional artists, including our own Ian Strain on the banjo and James on the piano, a thank you to them too for their musical contributions. It was also lovely to hear as well, local soprano Jean MacDonald, sing a hymn written by our dear friend and organist, the late Maureen Divers, who will always have a special place in our hearts.

The Harmony Group got us all clapping and tapping with their upbeat numbers and a little added magic and community singing from our friend the Rev John Campbell helped bring the afternoon full circle.

We are grateful too to Thomas Chalmers who was compere for the afternoon and not only introduced the acts but reminded us about the importance and aim of the afternoon.  A big thank you too to everyone who worked to ensure everything ran to order behind the scenes and to those who baked, served a great tea, helped out and ferried chairs about; we couldn't have done it without you!

And so, our new total for Mission of Love:

  • Our shortfall to meet our final target was £436.75

  • Music and Variety Concert raised £1,150

  • Grand Total £5,231.25

This was an unbelievable amount, raised by you and again, highlights the strength and unity of our church and how working for a common purpose brings us together. The extra money raised will be used by the charity for their feeding projects as they try to address humanitarian issues throughout the world.

Above are a few photographs taken on the day, showing all the artists, the "tea" ladies and the audience enjoying a thoroughly good afternoon's entertainment. Click an image and click the love heart to share the love... 


On our big packing weekend we filled 311 back packs, the highest number ever packed on a single day! A further 39 were added later bringing our grand total to 350  back packs, a match for last year!

Thank you for all the items and monetary donations that everyone handed in. This and the support of many beyond our Church walls, who year on year donate and ask for no recognition, helped us achieve another outstanding year of back packing.


As this project has grown over the years, so too has the commitment of many to become more involved and we thank everyone who has given their time these past weeks, including the Friday and Sunday of the packing weekend to sort and fill the back packs. The Sunday School was a great help, filling the bags, ensuring that not only were the backpacks filled but colour co-ordinated with items too! The amount of care that the boys and girls took to pack them ensured that each backpack was packed with a little bit of love too.

The back packs displayed in the Church were uplifted by the charity - along with clothing donations which can be sold in their charity shops. Everything that has been donated is used in some shape or form to support the charity's work.

Back Packs Sept 2018

It is wonderful to think that through everyone's efforts, we will not just be feeding 325 children through the "sponsoring a school feeding" programme but also giving that number and more a hand up in their education too.

Thank you does not quite cover it, but on behalf of the team and 350 happy children, a very big and heartfelt THANK YOU.


The Mary's Meal Team want to raise £4,518 to feed 325 children for a whole school year at Chambawa school in Zambia. To date, we have raised £4,081.85 so with just over £400 to raise we can see our target well within our sight.

A big thank you also to everyone who has spent considerable time shopping and going the extra mile to hunt down the bargains, making donations go further and allowing us to reach such a total once again.

We all like getting a bargain and our intrepid shoppers have admitted themselves that it has become an obsession trying to find the best deals.


As we move toward our next Backpack appeal, we are grateful to everyone to please remind their friends and family who are thinking of putting out their children's old school bags, pencil cases, gym shoes etc that we can re-use ALL of these items.

Click on picture to view images in full screen

Mary Lending A Hand
Backpack 01
Backpack 02
Soup Sunday
Soup Sunday
Helping In The Kitchen
Preparing the Backpacks for Shipping
Backpack 04

We also require the following items:​

  • Bar of Soap

  • Flip Flops/Sandals (up to Adult size 5)

  • Notebook/Jotter

  • Pencil Case

  • Ruler

  • Rubber

  • Pencil Sharpener

  • Shorts/T-Shirt, Dress (4-12yrs)

  • Spoon

  • Towel

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste 


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