Haitian girls in school uniforms stand in a lunch line holding bowls of food.
A Catholic school feeding program in Haiti sponsored by Cross Catholic Outreach.

Christmas Catalog Helps Catholics Feed the Hungry

The Christmas shopping season seems to start earlier every year, and in the mad rush for the best deals, it can be easy to forget how much we are already blessed — and how many families in developing countries lack even the basics of life.  As Catholics, shouldn’t we be making time during the Advent season for charitable giving as well?

The good news is — Cross Catholic Outreach can help.  We have developed a fun and easy-to-use annual Christmas Catalog to make your philanthropic planning a blessing and a breeze. If you missed the last one, no worries! A fresh catalog will be up in time for Advent, and it will again offer one of our most popular options for helping the poor — Vitafood for the hungry!

The Christmas Catalog: An Inspiring Way to Donate

For those who aren’t yet familiar with Cross Catholic Outreach’s Christmas Catalog, it is no ordinary retail catalog filled with common gift items. Instead, this catalog of blessings is packed with truly meaningful gifts to help the poor. In this year of extraordinary challenges and extreme global need, we encourage Catholics everywhere to take advantage of this opportunity to serve. Above all, it is a simple and inspiring way to incorporate almsgiving into your annual Advent and Christmas observances.

As you explore the catalog, you will be able to “shop” for gifts benefitting the poor and can choose the ones that most touch your heart — from a healthy meal for a child to a water system for an entire community. It’s very much like the experience of selecting Christmas gifts from a commercial catalog, but these gifts are very different.  They allow you to Be Someone’s Miracle, blessing needy families around the globe.

The Gift of Vitafood

Among the life-changing items on this year’s list, one of the most effective at ending hunger is Vitafood. If you choose to provide a supply of these nutritious meals, you can give it in honor of a loved one and their name will be added to a certificate you can send to let them know this gift was provided on their behalf.

Cross Catholic Outreach regularly receives generous donations of Vitafood — a fortified rice, potato or lentil product designed to rehabilitate severely malnourished bodies — from respected aid organizations. We also obtain rice-based meals packed by parishes, Catholic schools and other volunteer groups. It’s a beautiful gift, but one we can accept only if we can fund its shipment and distribution overseas. Your support empowers us to deliver this lifesaving food to its final destination.

Not only is Vitafood a cost-effective way of addressing hunger, but also it’s packed with nutritious ingredients to help malnourished bodies recover. These meals have been scientifically formulated with the optimal balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, fat and carbohydrates to meet the needs of children suffering from severe hunger. The meals can be prepared with additional spices or other ingredients to suit local tastes.

Vitafood has also proven to be a versatile resource for fighting hunger during the pandemic, especially for quarantined parents who cannot work and who struggle to provide for their families.

A hand holds a spoon in a bowl of Vitafood.
Vitafood sent to developing countries can be combined with spices and other ingredients to suit local cultural tastes.

How Christmas Catalog Gifts Help Fight Hunger

The Vitafood program featured in our Christmas campaign has brought health and hope to people like Emilia Yoc in Guatemala.

Emilia, 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 like 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!”

Related: Hunger in Guatemala – Causes, Effects & Solutions

A Guatemalan mother holds a bag of donated Vitafood.
Emilia Yoc is a grateful beneficiary of the Vitafood program, which was included in the 2020 Christmas Catalog.

Our Strategy: Local Partnership

To ensure that donations through the Christmas Catalog are used wisely and effectively, Cross Catholic Outreach partners with local parishes, missions, dioceses and other organizations serving the poor.

In the case of Vitafood, this means maintaining a global network of partners capable of efficiently storing and distributing the bulk shipments they receive. Friends for Health and Life is one such partner, but there are many others. These partners, in turn, ensure that the Vitafood meals reach the priests, sisters and other aid workers who run crucial feeding programs.

Many of the meals supply Catholic schools, where children often arrive on empty stomachs and may have nothing at all to eat when they get home. Meals also go to orphanages, hospitals, senior care centers, etc., or are rushed into regions hit by natural disasters such as a hurricane.

Related: Disaster Relief Impact

A man wearing a protective mask hands a bag of food to an elderly woman.
A food distribution through the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima, Guatemala.

Make Cross Catholic Outreach Your Christmas Charity

The annual Christmas Catalog offers Catholic families this option for feeding hungry families as well as other inspiring and impactful options for sponsoring truly meaningful Christmas gifts — donations that will address a real and urgent need.

This year, we will have a new catalog online in time for Advent, so you and your family can incorporate this inspirational giving opportunity into your observance of this joyous liturgical season.  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.

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.