PUPILS in Stirling are being encouraged to celebrate the new term by donating their old backpacks to children living more than 7,000 miles away in Malawi.

Local children can take part in The Backpack Project, run by Mary’s Meals, by filling their old bags with notepads, pencils and clothes.

The charity sends them to impoverished schoolchildren in Malawi - with more than 40,000 bags being gifted every year.

And, thanks to the donation of a new van by Arnold Clark, it will now be easier than ever for Mary’s Meals to collect bags from Stirling schools.

Adam Clark, group business sales and development director at Arnold Clark, said: “Arnold Clark is delighted to support Mary’s Meals, and help the charity continue its great work.

"It’s amazing to think that backpacks collected from schools around the UK in this van will soon be starting their journey to Malawi to help children with their education there.”

Mary’s Meals feeds more than 1.5 million children in 18 of the world’s poorest countries every school day.

The food attracts hungry children to the classroom, filling their empty stomachs and giving them the energy to learn.

Daniel Adams, executive director of Mary's Meals UK, said: “I hope pupils in Stirling will celebrate the new term by joining in The Backpack Project and donating their old bags to children who eat Mary’s Meals in Malawi.

“A bag filled with school essentials is a wonderful gift because it ensures these children can get the most out of their education, giving them a ladder out of poverty and the chance of a better future.”

Mary’s Meals can collect group donations of backpacks from schools, workplaces and groups across the UK. To find out more about The Backpack Project, click here.