Students in uniform stand in front of their school holding gifts they assembled.
Last year, the organization Rural Hope in Florida partnered with Cross Catholic Outreach, encouraged their students to partake in Box of Joy, an incredible work of mercy that benefitted thousands of children in developing countries.

How It Feels to Open a Box of Joy®

As soon as the sun rises (often even before!) on Christmas morning, eager boys and girls in the United States tug their yawning parents out of bed and race to see what gifts await them. As the torn wrapping paper flies through the air, everyone is caught up in uncontainable excitement.  

Sadly, Christmas morning arrives very differently in Haiti, Guatemala and other developing countries. There, impoverished children in remote communities may rise early like their U.S. brothers and sisters, but it is usually because they have to collect water from a distant source or get started on their other daily chores. Christmas is not a day marked by the arrival of bright boxes and pretty bows because the poverty in most developing countries is extreme — and gifts are a luxury very few can afford. 

It is estimated that 719 million people in the poorer nations of the world live on less than $2.15 per day. Children in those families consider themselves fortunate to have a little rice or stew to eat on Christmas Day. To them, receiving anything more — a soccer ball or lovely doll — seems 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 512,855 children with Christmas presents through the years.

Now in its 10th year, Box of Joy is again working to touch young lives — and we look again to Catholic schools to pitch in and make this an unforgettable year for their students and for children in need!

A girl with her Box of Joy.

What’s Inside a Box of Joy?

Box of Joy gifts are the size of a shoebox — but the joy they contain is immeasurable! When your school gets involved, the students and their parents are given the opportunity to lovingly pack these boxes. Each box is filled with items that may include:

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

Every Box of Joy also contains a rosary and The Story of Jesus, a small book printed in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole that shares the Gospel message in an engaging and easy-to-understand way. Students may also choose to include personal messages or special artwork too. These notes can do a lot to encourage their school-age peers a world away.

Altogether, the contents of a Box of Joy are fun, practical and encouraging. They can also have an important spiritual impact on the boys and girls who receive them! Because these special gifts are often distributed in Catholic schools dedicated to educating children in poverty about the love of God, they help hope-starved boys and girls understand they are abundantly loved by God and his Church.

Children such as Mayra and her cousin, José Eduardo Carías, were happy and thankful to receive such wonderful gifts.
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 children of all ages can participate in — and it allows your students to experience the power of transformation and hope. When your students give generously, their peers in developing countries are reminded that God and their brothers and sisters of faith care deeply about them and want to bring them joy.

Little Mayra Ester Lopez is one of those children. She lives in the community of El Cielito near Cuilapa, Guatemala. Mayra’s father is a migrant worker in a neighboring country. 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 is not the only thing she recalls. She also remembers the amazing gifts she received and the kindness of the people who made that 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 serving tirelessly to be able to send them a gift box that filled them with great joy.”

Help Make Box of Joy Possible

Box of Joy is an important instrument of mercy God can use to touch young lives — but the program can only succeed if schools such as yours are willing to share their resources and engage their students in this gift-giving outreach.

We are thrilled that so many Catholic educators and students have used Box of Joy to put their faith into action. Because they serve in various ways (packing boxes, delivering them to Drop-Off Centers, volunteering at our south Florida national screening center, etc.), we are able to ensure these lovingly packaged gifts reach boys and girls in the developing world.

For the schools that take part, the ministry serves as a wonderful and engaging extracurricular activity. It’s the perfect way to involve the whole school in a service project, and it helps teach participating students the virtue of serving others in need.

Last year, schools helped us send Box of Joy gifts to 118,990 boys and girls in Latin America, the Caribbean and Malawi, Africa — and this year, we hope to reach even more needy children for the glory of God. We pray you will join the many schools that have already made this incredible work of mercy an annual school activity.

And if you would like to participate online, we will pack a box for you! Check out Cross Catholic Outreach’s Christmas Catalog and give a Box of Joy to a child in need of hope. Working together, we can bless thousands more children this year!

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

Bless Lives This Christmas


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.