Ban lifted on schoolgirl’s Catholic fundraising effort

Edinburgh, Scotland, Jun 20, 2012 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Scottish schoolgirl who raised money for a Catholic charity by posting photos of her school lunches online has beat an official ban trying to prevent her from doing so.

Nine-year-old Martha Payne, who attends Lochgilphead Primary School, began posting photos in late April of her daily lunch on her blog titled “NeverSeconds.” She gave each one a score for healthiness, tastiness and the number of mouthfuls it took to consume.  

Her aim was to raise $11,000 for Catholic charity Mary’s Meals to allow them to build a kitchen in a school in Malawi in Africa. Within a few weeks, Martha’s site had received more than two million hits and a third of the donations required to build the kitchen.

However, after the success of Martha's blog was highlighted in a national newspaper June 14 – under the headline “Time to fire the dinner ladies” – she was told to stop her activities by school officials.

“This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office,” she informed her blog readers June 14.

“I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today,” she said, adding “I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals.”

Following 24-hours of widespread negative publicity, however, authorities quickly repealed their decision.

“It is a good thing to do, to change your mind, and I have certainly done that,” said Roddy McCuish, Leader of Argyll & Bute Council, announcing his policy switch on BBC News June 15.

The temporary ban has actually generated more traffic towards Martha’s blog and more money for Mary's Meals. Within one day, donations surpassed the $50,000 mark – more than 500 percent of Martha's initial target.

“We are overwhelmed by the huge response to her efforts today which has led to so many more people donating to her online donation page,” said Mary’s Meals spokesman, Daniel Adams, June 15.  

Founded in 2002, Mary's Meals aims to provide school meals for children in the developing world. The charity now feeds over 600,000 children in 16 of the world’s poorest countries.

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