Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about Box of Joy and how you can bless children.

Ministry Overview

Every year, Cross Catholic Outreach partners with Catholic parishes, schools, groups and families to support our in-country ministry partners and their efforts to help the poor. Box of Joy is a Christmas shoebox ministry that is joy-filled from beginning to end. The ministry uplifts the hearts of the families who assemble the boxes and brings smiles and laughter to poor children and their families when those gifts are distributed in developing countries.

A Box of Joy is a shoebox-sized package that you fill with toys, clothing, school supplies and other treasured items or a box of those items sponsored by a donation and packed by Cross Catholic Outreach’s ministry team (Team Joy). The program allows individuals, families and school groups to provide or sponsor presents for children in need by hosting a Christmas toy drive and assembling shoeboxes as a community.

Each child who receives a Box of Joy also receives a rosary and a booklet in their own language that tells The Story of Jesus. Box of Joy provides hope to children in need. Each gift represents Christ’s love and might be the only Christmas gift they receive.

In developing countries, Christmas is not always a day marked by feasting and gift-giving. In fact, the hardships of poverty leave many children resigned to deprivation. In 2014, Cross Catholic Outreach began the Box of Joy ministry as a way to combat this hopelessness and bring smiles to the faces of children around the globe.

Since its inception, 512,855 Box of Joy gifts have blessed boys and girls in nine developing countries. In the 2022 Box of Joy season, 118,990 gifts were sent to children in six countries: the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras and Malawi. We hope to increase the number of Box of Joy gifts sent for Christmas 2023!

During Box of Joy week at the beginning of November, gifts are donated and delivered to local Drop-Off Centers by participating parishes, schools, groups and families.

From the Drop-Off Centers, the gifts are picked up by the Box of Joy ministry and brought directly to the National Box of Joy Screening Center in Doral, Florida. There, each shoebox is screened to ensure the gifts are safe and appropriate for the children being blessed.

From the National Box of Joy Screening Center, gifts are shipped to developing countries. Relying on our trusted network of mission partners, Cross Catholic Outreach distributes Box of Joy gifts to children in needy families identified by the local priests and nuns serving impoverished communities.

  1. Donate a Box of Joy for $34 per box. This option makes it so easy to bless a child! All you have to do is head over to our donate page and complete the donation. Boxes donated this way are prepared at our National Box of Joy Screening Center and are sent directly to children in developing countries.
  2. Sign a group up to participate in a hands-on service opportunity that puts faith into action. Your group could be your church, a school or classroom, your family, your neighborhood, or an organization. The process is really simple: just sign your group up and we will send you the empty shoeboxes and information you need. Your group will shop for and pack the boxes and then return them to your nearest Drop-Off center at the beginning of November.
  3. Pack a box individually if you don’t have a group that can participate and you want to pack a Box of Joy yourself with items you choose from the store. For details on this option, please see the question below, “How can I participate in the 2024 Box of Joy ministry if I don’t have a Project Leader?”

Participating As a 2024 Project Leader

A Project Leader organizes the process used by parishes, schools, groups or families to bless children with a Box of Joy.

They set a pledge goal for the number of Box of Joy gifts they want to provide to children in need.  Then, they distribute the necessary information and materials (including special boxes) to their participants so the goal can be met. Project Leaders also organize the delivery of Box of Joy gifts to their local Drop-Off Center. Throughout the process, Project Leaders ensure that their participants understand the required steps to bless a child with a Box of Joy.

Cross Catholic Outreach will send you all the necessary resources to ensure that you are able to meet your pledged Box of Joy goal. This includes empty shoeboxes, tips and tricks, marketing materials, etc. Please note that the items that will go inside the Box of Joy gifts are provided by the individual packing the box.

You will receive a welcome email with all of the most important information upfront as well as reminder emails. Check out the resources available on our website, and join our interactive Facebook page for project leaders for extra great support.

A portion of the funds provided by donors is used to ship the Box of Joy gifts to the children being blessed. Another portion is used to support the overall mission work of the in-country priests, religious sisters and Catholic laypeople who help Cross Catholic Outreach deliver the gifts to children in their communities.

The Project Leader can collect all individual donations for each Box of Joy packed and mail all the donations in one envelope, or participants can individually donate. Donations can be made online here.

While making donations online is the preferred method, some participants may prefer to write a check. Donation checks should be made out to Cross Catholic Outreach and can be mailed directly to:

Cross Catholic Outreach
Donation Processing Center
PO Box 97168
Washington DC 20077-7798

You can use an empty regular-sized shoebox or a shoebox-sized plastic container.

Deliver your gifts to your nearest Drop-Off Center during Box of Joy week, November 2-10, 2024.

You can also designate your business or facility (no personal homes) as a Drop-Off Center, and we will pick up your Box of Joy gifts. As a participating Drop-Off Center, other Box of Joy participants may deliver their gifts to your business or facility.

The Box of Joy ministry will pick up from the Drop-Off Centers beginning November 12, 2024.

Box of Joy Ideas

We encourage our participants to include both toys and practical items in the Christmas shoeboxes they pack. For example, socks, flip-flops and hats are just as celebrated and cherished by needy boys and girls as toy cars and dolls. A full list of items can be found here.

Toothpaste, manicure sets (without nail polish), scissors (age appropriate), air pumps with needles for soccer balls, gum, soft candies, eating utensils (butter knives are okay), sewing kits and lip balm/ChapStick.

NO toy guns, knives or tools. NO military or police toys. NO food, beverages, chocolate or Jolly Ranchers. NO bubbles or bottled liquids (shampoo, nail polish, etc.). NO glass or breakable objects. NO cash, checks or gift cards. NO medicine or vitamins. NO lotions, petroleum jelly or gels (hand sanitizer, etc.).

You are welcome to remove any items from their original packaging to create more room for gifts in your Box of Joy.

At the National Box of Joy Screening Center, Team Joy ensures that each shoebox is safe and appropriate for the child being blessed. Team Joy volunteers will also add filler items to the shoeboxes to ensure that each child is blessed with an even number of gifts in their Box of Joy. And finally, a rosary and The Story of Jesus in the child’s own language are added to each shoebox.

Drop-Off Centers

A Box of Joy Drop-Off Center is a hub for incoming Box of Joy gifts from participating project leaders and individuals. Project Leaders and individuals deliver their packed and donated Box of Joy gifts directly to their local Drop-Off Center, which operates during Box of Joy week November 2-10, 2024.

Absolutely! Sign up to unite your community in serving needy children by offering your facility as a Drop-Off Center to receive Box of Joy gifts from parishes, schools, groups, and families in your area.

Drop-Off Center participants receive complimentary pick-up of all Box of Joy gifts at your location by the Box of Joy ministry beginning November 12, 2024.

Personal homes cannot be designated as Drop-Off Centers.

During Box of Joy week, November 2-10, 2024.

Visit our Drop-Off Center page to find your nearest Drop-Off Center along with the contact information. There, you will be able to find your local Drop-Off Center along with the contact information.

If there is no Drop-Off Center nearby, you can designate your business or facility as a Drop-Off Center.

Find contact information on the interactive map on our Drop-Off Center page. Reach out to the coordinator and express your interest in volunteering.

Donate a Box of Joy

When you donate a Box of Joy, Team Joy volunteers at our National Box of Joy Screening Center will pack the Box of Joy gifts that you donate for you and ship them to bless the children who need them most.

  1. Go to our donate page and choose how many children you would like to bless with a Box of Joy.
  2. Make a donation. Your donation covers the cost of the gifts and shipping. It also provides a donation to the ministry partners in the child’s community.
  3. Know that you made a difference! This year when you celebrate Christmas, think of the smile a child will have because of your generous gift.

Team Joy volunteers will fill your shoebox with toys, clothing, school supplies and other treasured items.

Both toys and practical items are valued by children in developing countries, which is why Team Joy volunteers include both types of items in the shoeboxes they pack. Once your shoebox is filled, Team Joy volunteers then add a rosary and a booklet in the child’s own language that tells The Story of Jesus.

Common Box of Joy Questions

We know that many parishes and Catholic schools have existing ministry partnerships with excellent missions and missionaries in various countries. However, Cross Catholic Outreach already has an extensive network of trusted Catholic ministry partners in over 36 countries, and we work in long-term partnership with them.

It is not possible for you to select the destination country for your Box of Joy gifts, but you can select the gender and age range of the children you want to bless.

Parishes, schools and groups outside the contiguous United States are encouraged to donate Box of Joy gifts that Team Joy volunteers pack on your behalf at the National Box of Joy Screening Center. If you prefer to pack a shoebox yourself with gifts, please ship it directly to the National Box of Joy Screening Center.

National Box of Joy Screening Center
10239 NW 62nd Street
Doral, FL 33178.

Participating in the Box of Joy ministry without a group is easy. You can have a Team Joy volunteer pack a box on your behalf by donating a Box of Joy gift, or you can pack a box yourself by using the following instructions:
  1. Find a regular-sized shoebox or a shoebox-sized plastic container.
  2. Designate directly on the shoebox the age and gender of the child you would like to bless.
    • Please Designate Choice of Ages: 2-4, 5-9, 10-14
    • Please Designate Choice of: Boy or Girl
  3. Fill your shoebox up with gifts from our list of recommended items.
  4. Secure your shoebox with a rubber band.
  5. Participants are asked to donate $9 per Box of Joy packed, which covers shipping and provides a donation to the ministry partners in the child’s community (donate here).
  6. Bring your gifts to your nearest Drop-Off Center. From there, the Box of Joy ministry will pick up the gifts.

11.5 inches long x 6 inches wide x 4.25 inches tall

Volunteering With Team Joy

The National Box of Joy Screening Center in Doral, Florida, has many volunteer opportunities during the Box of Joy season. Check out the Team Joy Volunteer Events and sign up for a date and time convenient for you!

There are multiple opportunities for you to serve on Team Joy during the months of August through December. Check out the Team Joy Volunteer Events and sign up for a date and time convenient for you!

Kit Packing Volunteers make sure Project Leaders and Drop-Off Center Coordinators have all the materials they need to bless children with a Box of Joy. Kit Packing Volunteers operate during the months of August through October.

Box of Joy Screening Volunteers check that all gifts are safe and appropriate for the kids being blessed with a Box of Joy. They also add a rosary and The Story of Jesus booklet and other items to fill the shoeboxes. Screening Volunteers operate during the months of November through December.

Service hours are awarded to students at the National Box of Joy Screening Center. Check out the Team Joy Volunteer Events and sign up for a date and time convenient for you!

Find contact information on the interactive map on our Drop-Off Center page. Reach out to the coordinator and express your interest in a volunteer opportunity.

You Have Helped Give Joy and Deliver

646,163 Box of Joy Gifts to Children Around the World!

Registration for 2024 Group Sign Up is Now Open!

Do something special for children in need. Register your group and we’ll help you from there!