Add Box of Joy to Your Fall Calendar

Holy Spirit Preparatory School in Atlanta, Georgia participated in the 2023 Box of Joy season — giving their students an engaging and tangible way to practice virtue.

Written by Tessie O’Dea, Relationship Development Manager, Cross Catholic Outreach, [email protected]

At Cross Catholic Outreach, we believe in following Christ’s example by loving the poor in both word and deed. After all, a single act of kindness has the power to bless lives abundantly — impacting those who give and those who receive.

The core principles behind our mission of mercy include obedience to God, joyful service and preference for the poor, a perspective we know U.S. Catholic schools share in their approach to education. Our Box of Joy® ministry — which invites U.S. Catholic schools and groups to pack gifts for children in developing countries such as Guatemala and Haiti — is one such way young Catholics can make a difference.

It is a privilege to work alongside Church leaders who have dedicated their lives to serving people in developing countries by providing safe housing, clean water, education, Catholic spiritual support and, of course, by taking part in our Box of Joy distributions. There is a holistic approach at the heart of our Catholic identity that has led us to create the Box of Joy ministry — a way to mobilize Catholics of all ages. By introducing Catholic school students to the transforming power of working on behalf of the poor materially and spiritually, we can help further the work of faith-filled priests, sisters and lay missionaries who are bringing hope and joy to the poor.

Abel, known to family and friends as “Abelito,” was excited to show off the Box of Joy he received last Christmas.

Meet Abel

Little Abel from the remote village of Los Chilitos, Guatemala, received a Box of Joy last Christmas. When Cross Catholic Outreach staff members visited Abel’s village after that event, he recognized the globe logo on their shirts and dashed home to grab his Box of Joy gifts! Abel wanted to show them the treasures he had received, including a ball, a matchbox car and a plastic pail.

The toys were only part of the reason Abel was so joyful. The box he received also contained a story about Jesus in his native language and a rosary, which Abel had since learned to pray! He even asked the Cross Catholic Outreach staff to tell Doug and Donna — the people who packed his Box of Joy — that he prays the rosary for them every night.

This box has been personalized for a girl and contains a filled-out activity page from the young girl who filled the box with her family.

Personalizing Box of Joy Gifts

How did Abel know Doug and Donna packed his gift? When choosing items for the gift that would be sent to Guatemala, the couple decided to include a photo of themselves with a letter wishing the child a Merry Christmas. The couple wanted Abel’s Box of Joy to have a personal touch, but they could not have known how Abel would respond to that photo and letter or that the little Guatemalan boy would begin praying for them.

This story of love, gratitude and spiritual connection demonstrates how much of a blessing a Box of Joy can be to a child in a developing country. At Cross Catholic Outreach, we encourage anyone packing a Box of Joy to take a few extra minutes to write a personal note and let the child who receives it know they are loved as a child of God and as part of our Church family. We are all God’s children and, therefore, one family in Christ.

As you engage in this mission of mercy with your Catholic school community, we encourage you to suggest participating students and families include drawings and notes or use other creative ways to connect with the children receiving their gift.

Get Your Students Involved

By participating in Box of Joy, you can help Catholic ministries in developing countries share the love of Christ with children who live in extreme poverty. The boxes packed by U.S. Catholics are an incredible blessing for children who may have never received a gift of their own. In this way, we can ensure girls and boys in developing countries experience Christmas joy and the love and provision of our Heavenly Father in a tangible way.

Interested in bringing the Box of Joy ministry to your school or group? Cross Catholic Outreach has made the process easy and convenient. When you sign up to become a Box of Joy team leader, you’ll receive a toolkit with all the resources you’ll need, including convenient directions and fun ideas to make your Box of Joy event a success. For example, the Box of Joy toolkit includes an activity page to help students personalize each gift. You are welcome to make copies of these pages and distribute them to students. We’ve also posted online a handy gift idea guide and ideas to engage your group.

Thanks to the generosity of U.S. Catholics, Cross Catholic Outreach and its overseas ministry partners have blessed children with more than 500,000 Box of Joy gifts. There are many more children in developing countries who pray for a similar blessing — and your school or group can help answer these prayers. The ministry encourages school leaders to sign up now and learn more about how to host a Box of Joy event on their campus.

Together, we can spread joy, one box at a time!

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