Box of Joy aims to be a bright light to the children it serves in Latin America.
Cross Catholic Outreach, a global relief and development non-profit, is kicking off its annual Box of Joy ministry this fall with a renewed passion and intensity, given the extraordinary and unprecedented year the entire world has faced. The World Bank estimates that the novel coronavirus has driven millions of families into greater poverty already, including those in nations where Box of Joy has been operating over the past several years.
“This year, perhaps more than any other, Box of Joy will be a small light in the darkness of the pandemic for thousands of families in Latin America who have suffered greatly,” said Jim Cavnar, president of Cross Catholic Outreach. “These small gifts of toys, toothbrushes, Bible stories, Rosaries, and crayons will be all that these children will receive for Christmas.”
Last year, through the efforts of 906 participating Catholic parishes, schools and groups across 47 states utilizing 149 drop-off centers, Cross Catholic Outreach collected and delivered gift-filled Boxes of Joy to 75,797 children in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, the Bahamas and Guatemala. The ministry’s goal is to increase the number of children served to 100,000 by this year.
Participation in the Create-A-Box option, which gives families an easy way to send a box online to a needy child, increased 22 percent in 2019. Parish participation increased by 59 percent and Catholic school participation increased by 37 percent.
“We are thrilled with the increase in participation in Box of Joy last year,” said Cavnar. “Families, parishes and school groups were extraordinarily generous, and we eagerly await the opportunity to serve even more children this year, sharing the joy of the occasion of the birth of Jesus.”
Catholic parishes, schools and groups nationwide organize Boxes of Joy by packing the boxes with small gifts like toys and school supplies, and adding essentials like soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, as well as a few treats like hard candy and coloring books. Participants include $9 in each box to cover shipment from the local drop-off center to the child.
Cross Catholic Outreach is encouraging parishes, families and schools to follow the CDC’s recommended social distancing guidelines when planning, shopping for and packing boxes. If anyone is uncomfortable with in-person groups, they are welcome to Create-A-Box online and send a Box of Joy directly through the ministry’s website. Project Leaders will receive suggestions and tips on how to run their own Box of Joy campaign this year and practice safe social distancing.
“Packing a Box of Joy is always a wonderful work of mercy for families to participate in,” said Cavnar. “This year, packing boxes within families is also an activity where social distancing is easy to observe.”
The 2020 Box of Joy campaign kicks off in September, and groups deliver gifts to their local drop-off centers during Box of Joy Week, Nov. 7-15. Any group that misses Box of Joy Week can ship their gifts to the National Screening Center in Miami. Here is the full 2020 schedule. To learn more on how to engage students, parishioners or group members in reaching needy children through Box of Joy, pleasevisit CrossCatholic.org/BoxofJoy.
Copyright 2020 Cross Catholic Outreach
Images courtesy of Cross Catholic Outreach. All rights reserved.
About Cross Catholic Outreach: Based in Florida, Cross Catholic Outreach is an official Catholic nonprofit 501(c)(3) relief and development organization that, since its founding in 2001, has given more than $1 billion in aid to help “the poorest of the poor” in more than three dozen developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and other parts of the world. For more information about Cross Catholic, visit CrossCatholic.org or call 800-914-2420.
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