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November 2019 – “The Positive Impact of Volunteering with SchoolBOX” by Alexandra Few

SchoolBOX is a registered charity in Canada and Nicaragua that is making education a possibility for children. Founded in 2006 by Tom Affleck, SchoolBOX was able to put two young girls from Nicaragua in school by providing them with simply a notebook and a pencil. Since then, SchoolBOX has blossomed into putting tens of thousands of children in school each and every year. With the help of so many gracious volunteers and donations, SchoolBOX has been continually able to supply school materials and build safe environments, such as schools and libraries, for children in parts of Nicaragua where education wasn’t a possibility before their help. The staff at SchoolBOX, as well as current and previous volunteers, know just how beneficial volunteering can be and want you to experience it for yourself.

The Impact of Giving & Volunteering

That heart-warming feeling after giving to someone is like no other. Whether you pay for a stranger’s coffee or give your time to help a friend, we give because we know it will provide a benefit to the person we’re giving to. However, don’t be so quick to take yourself out of the equation when it comes to those benefits. Research shows that when we give to others out of the goodness of our hearts, it actually benefits our mental health and wellbeing. Big or small, giving to others helps everyone involved and here is why. Biologically, the act of giving activates parts of the brain that release serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, all of which are “feel good” chemicals. Similar to a “runner’s high”, a “helper’s high” is a result of those chemicals being released, and that glowing feeling you get as a result, makes you want to continue to give and help others.

A term within psychology to help explain the impact of giving is called altruism- the act of putting people’s needs before our own. One of the best ways we can do this is through volunteering. Research within the act of volunteering has shown that altruism can create a sense of community and is an indicator of further volunteering. In addition to this, research on the perceptions of altruism and volunteering has found that there are many motivational factors to volunteer. Individuals have shown to develop career-relevant skills, it provides the ability to better understand society and the rest of the world, provides a chance to explore new cultures and meet new people, and ultimately, those who volunteer feel good about themselves by doing good for others.

Although the goal of volunteering and the act of being altruistic is centered on helping others, there are a great deal of benefits that can help you while you do it. Here are just three of those benefits:

  1. Volunteering can increase self-esteem.

When you volunteer, you gain a sense of purpose because you know you’re helping someone else. By giving your time you are making a big difference and that ultimately translates into positive feelings about yourself. Additionally, helping others just feels good.

  1. Volunteering helps you live longer

Believe it or not, volunteering increases your life expectancy. Research indicates that those who volunteer more regularly and frequently, have a lower mortality risk than those who don’t. There can be so many reasons as to why this is the case, but it is clear that when you volunteer, you decrease feelings of isolation, increase a sense of belonging, and have lower levels of stress, which can lead to lower blood pressure and stress-induced illnesses.

  1. Volunteering helps to broaden your scope and keep things in perspective

It can be so easy to stay in our own bubble and only worry about our immediate surroundings, and while that’s still important, it’s just as important to stay informed on the problems and inequalities that many experience, both locally and globally. Volunteering can help put things into perspective to make you realize the privileges you might have that others do not. Opening your mind and your heart to causes that might not affect you directly, but affect others greatly, is only going to improve your own sense of self and help make the world a better place.

SchoolBOX is giving a chance for everyone to achieve the benefits listed above, and many more, with their Volunteer Program. The volunteer program is a life changing 10-day group trip to Nicaragua to assist in the building of a school or classroom. Not only will you be able to build alongside SchoolBOX staff and other volunteers, but you will be able to enrich yourself into the culture by exploring Nicaragua, interacting with the children who will be accessing the school, and you can get a chance to experience first-hand who will be utilizing the space you are helping to create, such as the teachers, parents, and more.

SchoolBOX is undeniably changing the way children and communities live in Nicaragua and by being a volunteer, you too can help make a profound impact. With so many benefits that you will also get to experience, SchoolBOX welcomes you to be part of the change.