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School Bag Appeal

One way we support the children is through our School Bag Appeal. This is an ongoing appeal so that we can fill up enough School Bags for the children at St. John's, St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's.  For many of the children we support, receiving a School Bag is the first gift they ever receive.

These bags are packed full of items that are essential for the education of the children, and also beneficial for them outside of the school.

To date, we have delivered

School Bags to The Gambia!

  • School Bag - Since many of the children travel vast distances to the schools we support, we strive to make sure that each child has access to a School Bag to allow them to comfortably carry the items they need on their journey to school.

  • Notebook - We supply the children with a Notebook in their School Bag so that they are able to take notes of their work, allowing them to refer back to it later - particularly in the days and weeks before their exams.

  • Reading Books - We try to give each child a Reading Book, to allow them to practise their English and Reading skills. Although English is the main language of The Gambia, many of the children are brought up learning Tribal languages (such as Wolof and Mandinka).

  • Pencil Case - We supply each child with a Pencil Case, containing stationery such as pens, pencils, coloured pencils (usually 2-3 of each), a ruler, eraser and pencil sharpener. This allows them to take notes in their notebooks at school.



  • Label - Since we support children from 4 years old to 18 years old, we have to label our School Bags to know what age of child the School Bag is for, as well as whether it's for a Male or Female. The age ranges we use are 4-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-13, 14-16 and 16+ years old.

  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste - We supply the children with these items, so that they can keep their teeth healthy and clean. We also provide the children with lessons on Oral Health each year.

  • Soap and Face Cloth - We provide the children with soap and face cloths, so that they are able to wash themselves and keep themselves clean whenever they can.

  • T-shirt, Shorts and Shoes - We give each child and outfit to wear, together with a pair of flip-flops, to enable them to have something to wear outside of school.

  • Small Toy - For entertainment purposes, each child received a small toy in their School Bag (for example, a tennis ball).

How to make up a School Bag

Step 1

Find a classic School Bag or a reasonably sized drawstring bag to use as your School Bag - it can be new or in good condition.

Black and Blue Backpack

Step 2

Label your Bag, whether for a Male or Female, and for what age range (select from 4-6, 7-9, 10-11, 12-13, 14-16 years old).

Blank Scratchbook

Step 3

Add a notebook/jotter to your School Bag. This will allow the child to be able to take notes, and take these notes away with them.

Brown Notebooks

Step 4

Add a bar of soap to your School Bag,  in a ziplocked plastic bag - make sure the bag is of a reasoable size.

Shaving soap bar with red stripe

Step 5

Add a small face cloth into your ziplocked bag, beside your bar of Soap that you added in Step 4.

Rolled Towels

Step 6

Add a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste into the ziplocked bag, before sealing it inside the bag.


Step 12

Add a Small Toy (such as a Tennis Ball) and/or a Reading Book to your School Bag, before zipping it up. It is now ready to go!

Pile of Tennis Balls

Step 11

Add a pair of flip-flops (or shoes) to your School Bag, keeping in mind the age range of child that your School Bag is for.

Tribal Sandals

Step 10

Add a t-shirt/top and shorts (or else a dress if a girl) to your bag, remembering the age range of child that your bag is for.

Folded Clothes

Step 9

Add an eraser and ruler to your Pencil Case, before closing it and placing it inside your School Bag!


Step 8

Add 3 pens and 3 pencils to the pencil case, as well as a pencil sharpener. Your pencil case is almost complete!


Step 7

Find a used pencil case,

or something similar to store stationery items in. Make sure that it is a reasonable size.

Pencil Case


Thank you for making up a School Bag for a child at St. John's School for the Deaf, St. Patrick's Lower Basic School or St. Joseph's Nursery School! Some people wish to put a short note in their School Bag to let the child that is given the bag know who they are and where they are from - so please feel free to do this if you would like.


Don't worry if you aren't sure if you have put all the correct items in - someone from our School Bag Committee will check it over before it is shipped out to The Gambia. All that you need to do now is get in touch with our School Bag Committee and someone will get back to you to arrange pick-up/drop-off!


What happens next?

In advance of our two normal Aid Missions to The Gambia (these usually take place in April and November), we ship out containers from Scotland to The Gambia which are full of School Bags for the children.

These shipments arrive in The Gambia and are stored safely until our volunteers arrive. Then, the logistical task of distributing the School Bags to the children - who are spread between 3 different schools - begins!

Each year, the children are delighted to receive their School Bags! This only makes us more determined to continue sending out School Bags for the children - as we know how much of a difference it makes to them!

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Treetop Snow


Each Advent, we encourage our supporters to take part in our "Reverse Advent Calendar Appeal" - where, during the period of Advent, in preparation for Christmas, they fill up a School Bag ready to be given to a child in The Gambia. This varies slightly from the classic School Bag Appeal - as there are a total of 24 things to collect! Watch the videos below to find out more!

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