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Delivering food, shelter, and hope to the poorest of the poor
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who gave Christmas donations through our improved Christmas Catalog in 2020 (and also to those who plan to give in 2021)! The incredible outpouring of love to families in need proved the true spirit of the season was still alive and well, despite the challenges of a troubled year.
For those who don’t know about the Christmas Catalog, this special seasonal outreach is a mission of mercy we strongly encourage Catholics to take advantage of each year. It’s a simple and inspiring way to incorporate almsgiving into your annual Christmas observances. As you explore the catalog, you are able to “shop” for the gift that most touches your heart — from a soccer ball for a child to a house for a needy family — much like the experience of selecting Christmas gifts from a commercial catalog. But these gifts are different. They allow you to Be Someone’s Miracle, blessing needy families around the globe.
Judging from the tremendous response the Cross Catholic Outreach Christmas Catalog received, Catholics obviously love the concept. They eagerly embraced the opportunity to bless and answer the prayers of poor families around the world.
This past season, the most popular catalog item was Vitafood, nutrient-rich meals scientifically formulated to meet the needs of malnourished children. Cross Catholic Outreach ships Vitafood in bulk to ministry partners in developing countries, where the meals reach the hands of the hungry. This is a great way to rush a lot of healthy food to a lot of needy people, and it is the best way to avert catastrophe when a sudden emergency such as a hurricane or earthquake disrupts a community’s food supply.
The second most popular catalog selection was Box of Joy. This special Christmastime outreach puts smiles on the faces of thousands of precious children by allowing them to open their own boxes full of Christmas gifts — and they receive a message about Jesus’ love for them too. For many of these children, the Box of Joy is the first Christmas gift they have ever received!
The Vitafood program featured in our Christmas campaign has brought health and hope to people like Emilia Yoc in Guatemala.
Emilia Yoc, 64, lives with her husband and children in the small village of Piedras Negras, located in the Dry Corridor, an extremely poor region 110 miles southeast of Guatemala City. Her family was extremely poor before the pandemic but still managed to make enough money to put food on the table. That all changed with COVID-19. They were quarantined and left without the ability to work.
Thankfully, we supplied our local partner Friends for Health and Life with Vitafood to distribute to families such as this.
Jorge Gramajo, founder of Friends for Health and Life, met Emilia and saw her tremendous need. “They had very little food to eat before COVID-19,” he said. “Once the pandemic hit, they had no food at all, nor did they have seeds to plant for next season’s harvest.”
When Jorge presented Emilia with a bag of Vitafood meal packs, she broke down in tears. She could not believe someone would be willing to give her food without expecting any money. Emilia proclaimed, “The Virgin Mary heard my prayers!”
We just have to share this beautiful story from Haiti about a group of children blessed by the Box of Joy program, which so many Christmas Catalog participants supported.
In November, longtime ministry partner Nirva Desdunes in Haiti called Cross Catholic Outreach with a request — she planned to give the children at her Catholic school Christmas gifts but couldn’t afford the expense. Without gifts from Nirva, these 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 that the gifts would clear customs in time for her Christmas celebration, a long shot with COVID-19 restrictions in place.
But on December 22, just two days before the Christmas party, our Haiti warehouse got good news: The boxes cleared customs! It was a miracle! Cross Catholic Outreach International Project Officer Bob Penette called Nirva with the news, “Nirva, you are a convincing prayer warrior because your prayer just got answered!”
Nirva screamed out in joy, praising the Lord for his faithfulness! She sent a truck to Port-au-Prince to pick up 250 Boxes of Joy; they arrived in time for the party. Not only did Nirva’s children receive gifts in time for Christmas, but also thousands of other children in Haiti received the same blessing, 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 Penette 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.”
Related: Box of Joy® in 2020: Sending Christmas Miracles to Children in Need
The annual Christmas Catalog offers Catholic families lots of inspiring and impactful options for sponsoring a truly meaningful Christmas gift — one that will address a real and urgent need. If you missed it last time, don’t worry! We will have a new catalog online for the upcoming Christmas season. Participate this Advent season, and together we can reach more needy families than ever before, blessing them with material aid and the spiritual joy of knowing our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2023, 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.