SchoolBOX Founder Tom Affleck receives Meritorious Service Cross (M.S.C.) from Governor General David Johnston this Friday
ALMONTE, ON – November 23, 2016 – 10 years ago, a young Almonte man sparked a movement when he gave notebooks and pencils to two little girls in Nicaragua, and realized he had just removed the biggest barrier for them to attend school. That simple gesture and the years of work that followed have now resulted in one of the country’s highest honours for Tom Affleck, the 38-year-old founder of SchoolBOX.
This Friday morning Affleck will receive the Meritorious Service Cross (M.S.C.) Civil Division from the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, at a ceremony in Rideau Hall. The national honour recognizes a deed or an activity that has been performed in an outstandingly professional manner, or with uncommonly high standards; the activity is often innovative, sets an example for others to follow, improves the quality of life of a community and brings considerable benefit or honour to Canada. Past M.S.C. recipients include Olympian Clara Hughes and astronaut Chris Hadfield.
Affleck started SchoolBOX from his hometown in 2006 when he realized that the simple gift of school supplies could allow children from one of the world’s poorest countries to go to school. The grassroots, volunteer-driven organization has grown from providing educational supplies to building libraries, washrooms, playing fields, classrooms, and even entire multi-classroom schools. SchoolBOX has so far supplied 476,631 notebooks to children whose parents are often faced with the painful decision to put food on the table, or equip them with the tools they need to attend class.
“This is a very humbling honour,” said Affleck. “We started SchoolBOX with a dream and little else. We’ve now built 82 classrooms, employ a full-time construction crew in Nicaragua, and help more than 17,000 kids a year receive an education with school supplies and libraries. In 2018 SchoolBOX is aiming to complete its 100th new classroom. We’re also very excited about a new initiative, called SchoolBOX Canada, which aims to empower indigenous youth in northern communities to create libraries and other needed educational resources in their schools.”
Shaun McLaughlin, the Mayor of Mississippi Mills that includes Almonte, was instrumental in nominating Affleck for the M.S.C. Mayor McLaughlin stated that “Tom Affleck is an example to all Canadians, teaching us that we don’t have to be content with the status quo for disadvantaged people. He has inspired hundreds of volunteers in our community and right across Canada to participate in SchoolBOX, and our town is very proud of his accomplishments.”
In 2013 Affleck passed the day-to-day administration of SchoolBOX to his wife Sarah Kerr, who serves as the organization’s Executive Director. When’s he’s not assisting Sarah at SchoolBOX fundraisers or parenting their 2-year-old daughter Hannah, Affleck pours his energy into his new job as Entrepreneurial Leader at Knox Presbyterian Church. There, he oversees the Missions Hub, an incubator for Christian charities, and a $10 million renewal of the inner-city church’s property to ensure it remains a long-term force for good in its community.
SchoolBOX is committed to ‘Making Education Possible’ for the children of Nicaragua. SchoolBOX implements cost effective programming by building schools, providing school supplies, libraries, and teacher training. SchoolBOX has built 82 classrooms, and 46 school washrooms in Nicaragua and serves over 17,487 students and teachers in 96 communities on an annual basis.
Our community is united in love for the children we serve and the belief that education can defeat poverty. SchoolBOX is comprised of thousands of people from different faiths and socioeconomic backgrounds. We empower educators and students, and they in turn empower their communities and change our world.