We have all heard the quote “It is better to give than to receive”, but children in foster care rarely have the opportunity to experience giving, and all the benefits that come along with it.
There is a lot of research focused on the physical and mental benefits of giving and volunteering. Researchers consistently find that these activities can lead to greater self-esteem, life satisfaction and a sense of purpose. We know that giving may decrease your risk of depression and depressive symptoms such as sadness or lack of energy.
One 2013 study, for example, randomly divided 100 high school students into a group of volunteers and a group of nonvolunteers. At the beginning of the study, the volunteers and nonvolunteers had equal body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol levels. Afterward, those who had been assigned to volunteer once a week for two months ended up with lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and a lower average BMI.
It is important to us that we provide our students with the opportunity to experience giving, an important life lesson. One of the ways we do that is through our BF ELF program. Every December, our students can choose a gift he/she would like to give to someone. They are paired with a BF ELF (a volunteer, just like you) who purchases the requested gift for them. The BFF Coach then brings the gift to school, along with a variety of wrapping paper and cards, and teaches the student to wrap the gift (often the very first time they have ever done so). It looks a little different in elementary school, where the students make ornaments with their pictures on it, giving that as their gift.
We also give every student a box of cookies, baked by our very generous volunteers. Since we received more than enough cookies to fill all the boxes, we were able to give each student an additional box, with a gift tag on it, so they could give the cookies to someone- a second opportunity to give.
We know how giving makes us feel, and we are proud to be able to provide the chance for our students to experience the feeling. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi. Click here for pictures.