Donate cost of one Christmas dinner and feed a child for a whole school year

The Scottish charity Mary’s Meals is asking kind-hearted people to set an extra place at a virtual Christmas dinner table for starving families.

It is looking for donations of £12.20 ($19.50), which would provide food – and hope – for a child in need for an entire school year.

The sum – less than the average £16 ($25) it costs for a Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom – would assist children in orphanages and those affected by war and famine.

Mary’s Meals, which feeds more than 900,000 children worldwide via projects in 13 countries, hopes its One More For Christmas campaign reaches thousands more needy people. In return for giving £12.20, a place can be set on each donating family’s table with a personalised plate.

In Malawi, children get Mary’s Meals porridge every school day

The festive campaign has been created by creative agency Whitespace, which has donated its time and resources.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, chief executive and founder of Mary’s Meals, said: “Today, around the world, 58 million children miss school because of poverty. Instead of sitting in a classroom gaining an education, they are working in fields, begging on street corners or scavenging among the garbage to survive. Millions more attend school so hungry that they are not able to concentrate and learn.

“Our vision is that every hungry child should be able to receive one good meal each day they attend school and, in this world of plenty, there is no reason why that can’t happen. People may think it is unrealistic to imagine something better for the world’s poorest children but I know from seeing Mary’s Meals grow that it is possible.”

One of Mary’s Meals main areas of focus is Malawi, where the charity is warmly appreciated by the whole country.

Incredibly, Argyll-based Mary’s Meals manages to stream 93p of every £1 donated directly to its charitable activities, which means each Christmas donation can change lives.

In Malawi, 15-year-old Mary James has been head of her family since being orphaned five years ago. She was left to bring up her two younger sisters, Felista, seven, and Ruth, 11, alone. Mary said: “I feel that if I stop going to school I will continue to face difficulties in my life. It’s good that I go to school so that I’ll be able to help my younger sisters in the future.

“The porridge which Mary’s Meals provide really helps me. I often wake up on an empty stomach but if I go to school and get the porridge I no longer feel hungry. I’m so grateful to the people who provide us with the porridge.”

Founded in 2002, Mary’s Meals runs school feeding programmes in 13 countries – across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean – and is now reaching 923,572 hungry children every day they attend school.

To set your own place at the virtual Christmas dinner table, visit the One More For Christmas website.

This article by Mark McGivern originally appeared in the Daily Record on December 14 and is reproduced with their kind permission.