A ministry worker hands a Box of Joy to a smiling little girl.
Our partners at The Pearl Association in Honduras distributed Box of Joy ® gifts to grateful children. These gifts are touching lives!

How It Feels to Open a Box of Joy

Key Takeaway: Through Box of Joy, compassionate Catholics donate Christmas gifts to bless poor boys and girls in developing nations. Gift joy to make a child smile!

Children’s eyes light up on Christmas morning. 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.  

No wonder most children consider Christmas to be the very best day of the year.

In developing nations, Christmas morning often arrives very differently. While poor children in remote communities may rise early, it is usually to collect water from a distant source or to get a start on their other daily chores. This is not a day marked by the arrival of pretty boxes and bows, because poverty has made their Christmas morning unlike ours. 

Most estimates reveal that at least 689 million people around the world live on less than $1.90 per day. 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 393,865 children with Christmas presents through the years.

Now in its ninth season, Box of Joy is again working to touch young lives — and all compassionate Christ followers are being asked to pitch in and make this an unforgettable year for children in need!

Learn more about the Box of Joy ministry.

Three children in Haiti stand by a chair filled with toys.
Three children in a remote village near Jérémie, Haiti, display the contents from their Box of Joy gifts. They lost their mother in the 2021 earthquake, so these gifts were a small token of much-needed comfort and a reminder of God’s love.

What’s Inside a Box of Joy?

Box of Joy gifts are the size of a shoebox — but the joy they contain is immeasurable! Each one is lovingly packed by volunteers and filled with items, including:

  • Toys such as soccer balls, dolls, mini puzzles and jump ropes that bring delight.
  • Clothing like socks, T-shirts and hats to keep the children warm and dry.
  • Essential items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and bar soap to help kids stay healthy and clean.
  • School supplies like pencils and notepads to make sure boys and girls can achieve their dreams.

Every box also includes a rosary and The Story of Jesus, a small book translated into English, Spanish and Haitian Creole, that shares the Gospel message in an engaging and easy-to-understand way. Some volunteers also choose to include personal notes with their gifts.

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 — distributed by local priests, religious sisters and lay missionaries in developing nations — let children know they are abundantly loved by God and by his Church.

Look here for a complete list of Box of Joy gift ideas.

Donate to Make a Difference

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A group of children holding gift boxes inside a Catholic church.
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 that can transform sorrow into priceless hope. Children in poverty often bear heavy burdens of disappointment and loss, but these gifts shine a light into the darkness, reminding boys and girls that God and their brothers and sisters of faith care deeply about them and want to bring them joy.

Consider little Mayra Ester Lopez, who lives in the community of El Cielito near Cuilapa, Guatemala. Mayra’s father recently moved to the United States in search of work, 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 Joy, and her sad expression broke into a beautiful smile! Now, when she remembers that special Christmas, her father’s absence will not be the only thing she recalls. She will remember the amazing gifts she received and the kindness of the people who made this 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 fighting tirelessly to be able to send them a gift box that filled them with great joy.”

See the record-breaking impact that Box of Joy made last year.

A large group of women poses around a table filled with Box of Joy gifts.
Maryland State Council Knights of Columbus and their Ladies’ Auxiliary (shown here) worked together to send many Box of Joy gifts this year.

Who Makes Box of Joy Possible?

Box of Joy provides a powerful opportunity to touch young lives — and the ministry is only possible because compassionate Catholics like you are willing to share their resources and work together to bless children like Mayra.

Every year, people give and serve in various ways to ensure that thoughtfully packaged presents reach grateful boys and girls in the developing world. Some volunteers purchase and prepare their gifts individually. Some coordinate with their parishes, schools and groups to pack boxes together or host Drop-Off Centers to receive completed gifts. Others help by donating bulk items such as handmade toys, dresses and rosaries that can be packed inside each Box of Joy.

Although the deadline for individually packing Box of Joy gifts has already passed this year, there is still time to bless children with a meaningful gift by donating through our Christmas Catalog. Each donation of $34 will send one Box of Joy to a child in need and create a special memory that will last a lifetime!

Last year, friends like you helped us send Box of Joy gifts to 106,276 children in Latin America and the Caribbeanand this year, we hope to provide even more. As you plan your Christmas giving, please donate here to bless precious children and fill their hearts with joy!

Box of Joy is a registered trademark of Cross Catholic Outreach.