Boy wearing mask in El Salvador holds Box of Joy on street near home.

Box of Joy® in 2020: Sending Christmas Miracles to Children in Need

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.

Three children in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima, Guatemala, open Christmas gifts from Box of Joy.
For many families in developing nations, it is difficult to secure daily essentials such as food and water, much less presents for Christmas. Thanks to Box of Joy, impoverished children in countries such as Guatemala can look forward to the hope and light that one gift can bring.

What Is Box of Joy?

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.

Learn more about Box of Joy

Girl at Ana Delia Puentes School receives a Box of Joy through Caritas in the Diocese of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
In the Dominican Republic, children in communities such as Las Maras were delighted to receive Boxes of Joy through local Catholic ministries

How Box of Joy Makes a Material and Spiritual Impact

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.

Minnesota Knights of Columbus prepare boxes for shipment.
The Minnesota Knights of Columbus prepared boxes for shipment. Groups like theirs accomplished incredible things to share gifts and the hope of Christ with children in need!

Box of Joy 2020 by the Numbers

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:

  • ●  61,422 children blessed with a Box of Joy.
  • ●  Seven countries served: The Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Grenada/Caribbean Islands, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
  • ●  723 participating organizations, including 162 schools, 322 parishes and 239 groups!
  • ●  174 Drop-Off Centers.
  • ●  498 screening center volunteers.
  • Bulk items donated:
    • ○  6,000 handmade wooden toys from TLC Toys.
    • ○  15,000 handmade rosaries and 25 rosary-making kits from the Cops Foundation.
    • ○  More than 2,000 dresses from Dress a Girl Around the World.
    • ○  Polo shirts, tote bags and miscellaneous items from the Snyder Foundation.
    • ○  More than 83,000 saint charms from Tiny Saints.
    • ○  More than 4,000 pairs of yoga sandals from Our Lady of Czestochowa.
    • ○  Hundreds of handmade puppets from Antoinette Hall.

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!

Children at Center of Hope School in Morique, Haiti, hold up Boxes of Joy, distributed by the Kobonal Haiti Mission.
Haiti’s children are grateful for the 7,655 boxes that made it to their country in time for Christmas!

A Christmas Miracle in Haiti

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.”

Josh Mounsey, a student at the University of St. Thomas, holds a Box of Joy.
Josh helped collect thousands of Boxes of Joy in 2020. His story shows how one person’s dream can mobilize an outpouring of generosity!

A College Student’s Dream

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!

Girls at Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans pose with Boxes of Joy assembled in the shape of a snowman.
Students at Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans did a wonderful job collecting and packing gifts for the 2020 season. There are many opportunities for schools, parishes, groups, families and individuals to make a difference through Box of Joy!

How You Can Take Part in Box of Joy 2021

More miracles are already in the making for this year. As the Box of Joy 2021 season rapidly approaches, we are praying and working to bless more children this Christmas than ever before. But we need your help!

There are several ways for you to make a difference through Box of Joy this year.

  • Organize an engaging fall service project for your school, parish or group to collect gifts and fill boxes for children in need. Parishes, schools and other facilities can also serve as Drop-Off Centers to receive Boxes of Joy from local participants.
  • Volunteer at a Drop-Off Center near you to receive and prepare Boxes of Joy, or serve at our Screening Center in south Florida to ensure all boxes are ready to ship. There are plenty of short- and long-term opportunities to put your faith into action.
  • Donate at Box of Joy Online and allow Cross Catholic Outreach to build a box on your behalf. Each box costs about $25 to fill and $9 to ship — but the more boxes you buy, the lower the cost per box!

Thank you to everyone who participated in 2020 to proclaim the birth of Jesus by bringing joy to children in need. We pray many blessings for you and ask that you would continue working with us to share the light of God’s love this year.

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures for this project incurred through June 30, 2025, 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.