African children will remember Stenhousemuir’s Maurissa

Over 300 backpacks will be sent to Africa in memory of Maurissa Clark who died from cancer this year
Over 300 backpacks will be sent to Africa in memory of Maurissa Clark who died from cancer this year

Despite battling cancer, Maurissa Clark never gave up helping others.

The Stenhousemuir trainee teacher was always the first to volunteer ... and her family has just provided a massive boost for needy children in Africa in her memory.

Last year Maurissa responded to the appeal, sending 188 backpacks to Africa in a campaign run by Mary’s Meals and supported by her church, St Bernadette’s.

Sadly, aged just 20, the former St Mungo’s High pupil lost her fight with Hodgkins Lymphoma in June, leaving her family devastated.

But they bravely challenged themselves to beat Maurissa’s total as a tribute to the popular student.

Mum Grace said: “Maurissa’s death has left a huge gap in all our lives. She was always happy and keen to help others. She really got involved in the backpack appeal last year after she heard how little these children had, she loved children and hated to see anyone go without.”

The Mary’s Meals initiative provides bags for African children, filling them with the clothes and stationery the child need to attend classes.

Once at school, the youngsters are given a free cooked lunch, again provided by the charity.

Grace (61) said: “The children can’t go to school without stationery, and if they aren’t at school they don’t get a free meal – meaning the poorest still suffer.

“I remember Maurissa got very upset and wanted to send as many bags as possible. It’s been lovely to continue this in her memory – and it’s been a very welcome distraction for me.”

Grace and friends Margaret McCafferty, Rosemary Dickson and Freda Mackay managed to donate 345 filled packs to the appeal – getting the impressive total together in just eight weeks and smashing their target of 200 bags.

Thanks to donations from the community, parishioners, businesses and children from St Bernadette’s Primary, hundreds of African children will receive a bag in time for Christmas.

Margaret said: “It’s been like a full time job for the volunteers and we have often been working past 10 p.m. putting the bags together. But it’s been well worth it.

“This cause was close to Maurissa’s heart so it’s wonderful to see the community and local businesses back it and donate in her memory.”