The Backpack Project

Many children receiving Mary’s Meals don’t have basic learning tools such as pencils and notepads.

You can support them to get the most out of their lessons by donating a backpack full of the things they need. For many children, a Mary’s Meals backpack will be the first gift they have ever received.

What to pack

Since The Backpack Project began in 2005, it has captured the imagination of thousands of people. More than 500,000 filled backpacks have been sent from supporters across the UK and Ireland to children receiving Mary’s Meals.

It is a great way to recycle; we welcome good quality, second-hand items and you can donate a filled backpack, an empty backpack, or any of the individual items on the list. 

Niamh's story

Niamh and her classmates are involved in the Backpack Project

Niamh is in Primary 6 at St Aloysius Junior School, Glasgow and her class support The Backpack Project every year. She loves it!

“I really enjoy filling backpacks when we do our annual appeal.  I know that whatever I donate will go to Malawi and be given to a child who is not as fortunate as me.

“We were so lucky to visit the Mary’s Meals warehouse in Glasgow to see the next bit of our backpacks’ journey.  I am happy to know that I have helped someone by donating my extra backpack - everyone should fill old backpacks and donate them to Mary’s Meals!”

Open quote mark Can you pass on a message to the people that donated these backpacks? Please say thank you. They have made these children so happy, they’re now proud kids! Close quote mark
Patrick Masiye, Standard 6 teacher, Bangwe CCAP Primary School, Malawi

An amazing gift

Pat Sowa is the headteacher of Brackenfield School, Harrogate.

“Packing basic items such as pencils really brings home to our pupils how little some of their counterparts in many countries actually have. By donating backpacks, the pupils realise just how much we take for granted, and they really understand the difference their gift makes to children their own age.”


What to do next

All you need to do is let people know what to put in the backpack, decide appeal start and end dates, and you are ready to go. You can download our teacher’s guide, or contact us and we can send you flyers and posters to get The Backpack Project started in your school or club. We encourage you to send used, but in good condition, schoolbags and backpacks. Please don’t send drawstring gym bags. When you are ready, we will even arrange to pick up the filled backpacks for transportation, at no cost to you, to school children in Malawi. 

Send your backpack on an amazing journey