Cross Catholic Outreach sets drop-off week for Box of Joy gift program

BOCA RATON, Fla. (CNS) — The week of Nov. 5-13 has been deemed the Box of Joy Week by Cross Catholic Outreach for groups around the U.S. that have been putting together small Christmas boxes for the world’s poorest children.

During that week, participants in the Box of Joy project can take their boxes to a drop-off center closest to them so the Boca Raton-based global relief and development ministry can get them to children in about seven countries. Hundreds of these are centers listed at

Last year, 1,115 Catholic parishes, schools and groups across 47 states participated in Box of Joy. Through these efforts, Cross Catholic Outreach collected and delivered the gifts to 106,276 children in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Grenada and Guatemala.

“Box of Joy gives families, parishes and schools the opportunity to show children who live in impoverished and poverty-stricken nations that they are loved, that there are people who think about them and pray for them and, ultimately, have placed them on their hearts during the Christmas season,” said Jim Cavnar, president of Cross Catholic Outreach.

Siblings in Guatemala are seen with a Box of Joy in this undated photo. U.S. Catholic parishes, schools and groups pack the boxes with small gifts for children in several impoverished nations in an annual program sponsored by Cross Catholic Outreach in Boca Raton, Fla. (CNS photo/Cross Catholic Outreach)

Groups nationwide organize Box of Joy gifts by packing shoebox-sized boxes with small gifts such as toys and school supplies and adding essentials, like soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, as well as a few treats like hard candy and coloring books. The ministry adds a rosary and “The Story of Jesus” to every box to remind children why Christmas is so special, and participants donate $9 to cover international shipment.

Box of Joy’s goal this year has been to engage 1,505 Catholic organizations in packing gift boxes for 144,500 children.

“We are hoping to bless thousands more children in 2022 as organizations and parishes look for more ways to engage works of mercy into their liturgical year and into the daily lives of their parish families,” said Cavnar.

The number of those receiving the boxes in 2021 was a 73% increase over the previous year, which Cross Catholic Outreach said reflected a general increase in Americans’ generosity even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Florida group cited statistics showing that upward of 72% of Americans “helped a stranger” and more than 60% gave a monetary donation.

“The generosity of families, school groups, and parishes who participate in Box of Joy never ceases to amaze me, especially coming out of a pandemic,” said Michele Sagarino, vice president of development for Cross Catholic Outreach.

“The faces of the children who receive their Box of Joy gifts are a beautiful sight, and that always makes every effort worth it many times over,” she said in a statement. “It is humbling to lead such an impactful ministry.”

Note: If there is not a drop-off center close to participants, the small boxes can be shipped to Cross Catholic Outreach’s National Screening Center. To receive the center’s address and other details, send an email to

Author: Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ news and information service.

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