CHILDREN in a west Dorset school are packing their bags - but the pupils are not going anywhere.

But the bags are.

For the second year running students at St Catherine’s Catholic Primary School in Bridport are supporting Mary’s Meals as its school’s Lenten charity.

Mary’s Meals, a charity set up in 1983 by Angus MacFarlane-Barrow in a shed in Scotland, aims to provide a daily meal, in a place of education, for children in the world’s poorest communities.

It currently feeds more than 1.2 million children each day across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America.

When the children heard from Mary's Meals local representative Ann White last year about the charity and that it costs just £13.90 to feed a child for a whole school year they really engaged with the charity and after the talk raised more than £200.

This year, St Catherine’s pupils have joined the Mary’s Meals Backpack project, which since its inception in 2005, has sent more than 450,000 backpacks from the UK and Ireland to children receiving Mary’s Meals.

Governor Georgina Coombs said: "Together with parents, staff, parishioners from the Catholic Women’s League and of course the children, they have gathered pre-loved backpacks and lovingly filled each one with shorts/skirt and t-shirt, flip flops, notebooks, pens and pencils, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, a small ball, a spoon and a towel.

"In total, they have gathered 40 backpacks which will be winging their way to happy children full of the things they need to help them get the most out of their lessons."

As well as feeding some of the most disadvantaged children in the world Mary’s Meals also ventures into war-torn countries and has recently launched a school feeding programme in Aleppo, feeding 1,500 pupils from six schools.

Mary’s Meals works with thousands of volunteers - 80,000 in Malawi alone - in 14 countries worldwide.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, Mary’s Meal's founder and chief executive said: “The joyful news that 1,230,171 children are now receiving Mary’s Meals is all thanks to the incredible efforts of our supporters and volunteers around the world, who give whatever they can – time, money, skills and prayer – to help the

communities in which Mary’s Meals is working.

“Whether it’s the terrible ongoing conflict in South Sudan or the worsening food crisis in Malawi, we are constantly reminded that the promise of a daily meal in school for hungry and vulnerable children has never been more important."