The year 2020 was incredibly challenging — but it was also a year marked by God’s blessings. Even during the most difficult seasons, we could clearly see the Lord working through each of our donors and our ministry partners around the world, using them as his instruments to bless the poorest of the poor in developing nations.
Those who participated in the Box of Joy ministry demonstrated Jesus’ love and mercy in a particularly touching way. Though many schools, parishes and groups could not meet together in the usual fashion, they still found creative ways to overcome the challenges and prepare meaningful Christmas presents for poor boys and girls. Thanks to their commitment and generosity, 61,422 children received Boxes of Joy in the 2020 season — a miracle of mercy made possible by Catholics working together.
Box of Joy is an annual Christmas gift ministry facilitated by Cross Catholic Outreach and organized by parishes, schools and groups throughout the U.S. Every year, incredible participants and volunteers collect, pack and send presents to children living in extreme poverty. Many of the children served by Box of Joy have never received a Christmas present before — so each gift goes a long way to make the season special for kids in need.
Every Box of Joy is lovingly filled with toys, school supplies, candies and practical items like socks and soap. Children also receive a rosary and “The Story of Jesus” coloring book, translated into their local language. In this way, precious boys and girls receive the good news of the Gospel through both words and a tangible gift of love.
In addition to providing children with meaningful, fun and practical gifts, Box of Joy is intentional about making a spiritual impact. Each child who receives a Box of Joy also receives the Gospel message in the form of an engaging coloring book, and gift distributions help draw families into closer relationship with local Catholic parishes and ministries.
Cross Catholic Outreach ships Boxes of Joy to developing countries. There, shipments are received by our trusted distribution partners, who deliver Boxes of Joy to local parishes, schools, orphanages and other Catholic ministries. These organizations then distribute the gifts directly to vulnerable children in their communities.
Gift distributions are always lively, joyful events. Often, local Catholic leaders have an opportunity to pray with and minister to those in attendance. Children and their families experience the love of Christ working through the Catholic Church in an unforgettable way.
In the Box of Joy 2020 season, our devoted donors and volunteers achieved many incredible goals on behalf of children in need. Here’s a breakdown of some of the miracles they made possible:
Since Box of Joy began in 2014, a total of 287,446 children have been blessed by compassionate Catholics throughout the U.S. Praise the Lord!
We are always amazed to watch God move mountains through Box of Joy. In 2020, many of our ministry partners in Latin America and the Caribbean faced acute challenges because of the pandemic and other hardships. Thankfully, though, there is no obstacle too big for our God! By his grace, children in countries such as Haiti received meaningful Christmas gifts, despite seemingly impossible situations.
In November, Nirva Desdunes, one of our longtime ministry partners in Haiti, called Cross Catholic Outreach with a request. Nirva had planned to give the children at her Catholic school Christmas gifts, but she couldn’t afford the expense and needed our help. Without gifts from Nirva, the children would receive nothing.
Cross Catholic Outreach immediately started working to get Nirva’s children on the distribution list. When the Boxes of Joy left the port in Miami in early December, Nirva prayed the gifts would make it through customs in time for her Christmas celebration — a long shot due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But on December 22, just two days before the Christmas party, our Haiti warehouse got good news: The boxes had cleared customs. It was a miracle! Cross Catholic Outreach International Project Officer Bob Penette called Nirva with the news
“Nirva,” Bob said, “you are a convincing prayer warrior because your prayer just got answered!”
Nirva cried out with overwhelming gratitude, praising the Lord for his faithfulness. She sent a truck to Port-au-Prince to pick up 250 Boxes of Joy, which made her Christmas party unforgettable for children in need.
And Nirva’s children weren’t the only ones who received gifts in time for Christmas; so did thousands of other boys and girls in Haiti, including children living with HIV/AIDS at an orphanage in Port-au-Prince.
“The reaction is just amazing. The children are happy to get these gifts,” Bob said. “It is a light in the tunnel of difficult moments these children are living through on a daily basis. I’m thankful to be part of that chain of love that provides them that joy.”
In every Box of Joy season, miracles happen on the home front as well. We hear countless stories of Catholics in the U.S. who apply their faith and dedication toward achieving incredible goals through Box of Joy. This year, the commitment of Josh Mounsey, a student at the University of St. Thomas, particularly touched our hearts.
Josh, dedicated to serving others, found Cross Catholic Outreach and Box of Joy in an internet search. Feeling inspired, he signed up to be a Project Leader and set a lofty goal to collect thousands of Boxes of Joy.
But as Box of Joy Week grew closer, Josh realized that the pandemic was hindering his ability to collect boxes. To help him overcome this challenge, Cross Catholic Outreach connected him with the Minnesota Knights of Columbus, and through a local newspaper article, he received a wonderful donation from TLC Toys. Josh’s campus minister and the vice president of student affairs also worked to help accomplish the mission. This teamwork and generosity ultimately empowered Josh to bless thousands.
We’re so thankful for Josh’s perseverance and his heart for poor children. He is one of many servant leaders who make this ministry possible!
Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2022, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.