Last year, Hope Rural School in Indiantown, FL partnered with Cross Catholic Outreach, encouraging their students to partake in an incredible work of mercy that benefitted thousands of children in developing countries.

How It Feels to Open a Box of Joy®

As soon as the sun rises (maybe even before!), eager boys and girls in the United States tug their yawning parents out of bed and race to the Christmas tree to see what awaits them there. As the torn wrapping paper flies, everyone is caught up in uncontainable excitement.  

Sadly, Christmas morning often arrives very differently in developing nations. Impoverished children in remote communities may rise early like their U.S. brothers and sisters, but it is usually because they have to collect water from a distant source or get started on their other daily chores. Christmas is not a day marked by the arrival of bright boxes and pretty bows, because where poverty is extreme, gifts are luxuries few can afford. 

Children in these poorest families will be glad just to have a little rice or stew to eat on Christmas Day. To them, the idea of receiving anything more — a soccer ball or lovely doll — seems like an impossible dream.

Since its beginning in 2014, however, Box of Joy has been working hard to make the impossible possible! Through this gift-giving ministry, U.S. Catholic parishes, schools, groups, families and individuals have united to bless 512,855 children with Christmas presents.

Now in its 10th season, the Box of Joy ministry is again working to touch young lives — and we look again to Catholic schools like yours to pitch in and make this an unforgettable year for their students and for children in need!

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What’s Inside a Box of Joy?

Box of Joy gifts are the size of a shoebox — but the joy they contain is immeasurable! When your school gets involved, students and their parents are given the opportunity to lovingly pack these boxes. Each box is filled with items that may include:

  • Toys such as soccer balls (deflated with pumps), dolls, mini puzzles and jump ropes that bring delight.
  • Clothing such as socks, T-shirts and hats.
  • School supplies such as pencils, crayons and notepads.

Prior to shipping, Team Joy volunteers add a rosary and The Story of Jesus, a small book printed in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole, that shares the Gospel message in an engaging and easy-to-understand way. This shares our Catholic faith.

Altogether, the contents of a Box of Joy are fun, practical and encouraging. They can even have an eternal impact on souls! These special gifts — often distributed in Catholic schools dedicated to educating children in poverty — let boys and girls know they are abundantly loved by God and by his Church.

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Caption: Children such as Mayra and her cousin, José Eduardo Carías, were happy and thankful to receive such wonderful gifts.

Mayra’s Miracle: A Testimony of Joy

Sending a Box of Joy is a simple act of mercy in which students of all ages can participate — and through participation, your students experience the power of transformation and hope. When your students give generously, their peers in developing countries are reminded that God and their brothers and sisters of faith care deeply about them and want to bring them joy.

Little Mayra Ester Lopez is one of those children. She lives in the community of El Cielito near Cuilapa, Guatemala. Mayra’s father is a migrant worker in a neighboring country, leaving Mayra with his brother’s family in Guatemala. While Mayra knows her father is trying to provide a better life for her, she still misses him very much. She was sad when he was unable to come home for Christmas one year.

Then Mayra received a Box of Joyand her sad expression broke into a beautiful smile! Now, when she remembers that special Christmas, her father’s absence is not the only thing she recalls. She also remembers the amazing gifts she received and the kindness of the people who made that miracle possible.

Our ministry partners in the local Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima explained, “Little did [the children] imagine that in another part of the world, there was a group of people serving tirelessly to be able to send them a gift box that filled them with great joy.”

Help Make Box of Joy Possible

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Box of Joy is an instrument of mercy God is using to touch young lives — and it is only possible because schools such as yours are willing to share their resources and engage their students in this gift-giving outreach to bless children like Mayra.

We are thrilled that so many Catholic educators and students have used Box of Joy to put their faith into action. Because they serve in various ways (packing boxes, delivering them to Drop-Off Centers, volunteering at our South Florida National Screening Center, etc.) we are able to ensure these lovingly packaged gifts reach boys and girls in the developing world. 

For the schools that take part, the ministry serves as a wonderful and engaging extracurricular activity. It’s the perfect way to involve the whole school in a service project, and it helps teach participating students the virtue of serving others in need.  

Last year, generous Catholics sent Box of Joy gifts to 118,990 boys and girls in Latin America, the Caribbean and Malawi, Africa — and this year, we hope to reach even more needy children for the glory of God. We pray you will join the many schools that have already made this incredible work of mercy an annual school activity. Working together, we can bless thousands more children this year!

Box of Joy is a registered trademark of Cross Catholic Outreach, and a DIA Schools Collaborative strategic partner.  Crows Catholic Outreach was founded in 2001 and their mission is to “Mobilize the global Catholic Church to transform the poor and their communities materially and spiritually for the glory of Jesus Christ.”