Facebook @FloridaCatholic Nov. 13-19, 2020
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BOCA RATON U.S. Catholic parishes, schools and groups have been collecting items since the fall to share Christmas joy in small packages for children in poverty- stricken nations and will deliver the gift boxes to local drop-off cen- ters during Box of Joy Week, Nov. 7-15. Cross Catholic Outreach, a global relief and development non- profit based in Boca Raton, has for several years now sponsored the annual Box of Joy ministry, www. boxofjoy.org, and the nonprofit's president feels the program this year has even more meaning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, perhaps more than any other, Box of Joy will be a small light in the darkness of the pan- demic for thousands of families in Latin America who have suffered greatly," said Jim Cavnar. "These small gifts of toys, toothbrushes, Bible stories, rosaries and crayons will be all that these children will receive for Christmas." Besides the items, participants include $9 in each box to cover shipment from the local drop-off center to the child. Of the $9, $2 support outreach efforts in the child's community. Drop-off locations include 14 Regina Caeli Academy centers: At- lanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix, Galveston-Hous- ton and San Antonio; Austin and Fort Worth, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Caro- lina; Omaha, Nebraska; and Port- land, Oregon. The boxes are then sent to Flori- da where Cross Catholic Outreach volunteers prepare them to be shipped to their final destination. Last year, through the efforts of 906 participating Catholic par- ishes, schools and groups across 47 states utilizing 149 drop-off centers, Cross Catholic Outreach collected and delivered gift-filled Boxes of Joy to 75,797 children in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, the Bahamas and Guatemala. The ministry's goal is to increase the number of children served to 100,000 this year. Cavnar is often asked whether a box of toys is really the best re- sponse to the poverty these chil- dren endure. When that box is part of a broader response of love, it is," he said in a prepared Q-and-A re- leased by the nonprofit. "Cross Catholic Outreach, through our network of local partners, responds to emergency needs and addresses root causes of extreme poverty. But for a child who has never received a gift," he added, "what better way to combat hopeless- ness than with a message of hope
Program has more meaning in pandemic
A list of drop-off centers can be found at www.crosscatholic. org/box-of-joy/drop-off-centers. Any groups that miss Box of Joy Week for dropping off their gift boxes can ship them to the National Screening Center in Miami.
Bishop Gerald M. Barbrito blessed the Boxes of Joy collected by Pastoral Center staff in 2019. A portion of these boxes went to students at Hope Rural School in Indiantown. (CECILIA PADILLA FC)
and love? Box of Joy doesn't replace other aid, it enhances it." These boxes of small gifts are a good reminder of the strangers who gave our baby Jesus gifts at his birth, who wanted to love him the best they could and gave what they had for his enjoyment," he said. Cavnar described Box of Joy as a two-way ministry. We help the poorest of the poor share in Christmas joy. But we also share in the joy," he explained. That starts with selecting and packing gifts and knowing that our gifts are hand-delivered to a spe- cial child. Studies abound showing that joy comes not in spending on ourselves but in doing for others. Your Christmas gifts are opened by a child who will very likely receive nothing else. I repeat: nothing else. Seldom do any of us have a chance to cause such genuine happiness." Cross Catholic Outreach sup- ports over 285 projects in 28 coun- tries, particularly in areas needing disaster relief, education, food, housing, medical aid, orphan and childcare, clean water and micro- enterprise assistance. It has active programs in Africa, Asia, the Ca- ribbean, and Central and South America, and in 2019, gave over $9.2 million in grants. It began the Box of Joy project as a pilot program in 2014 with just two dioceses and a handful of parishes and schools that packed boxes for children in Guatemala. In 2015, the program expanded to eight states and the next year went nationwide. The current COVID-19 pan- demic did not change the list of gift items Cross Catholic Outreach suggests for the Boxes of Joy, but one of those items - bars of hand soap - is "needed more than ever," it noted.
A child is seen with a Box of Joy. U.S. Catholic parishes, schools and groups pack the boxes with small gifts for children in several impoverished nations. Sponsored by Cross Catholic Outreach, the annual program planned to hold its Box of Joy Collection Week Nov. 7-15, 2020. (COURTESY REGINA CAELI ACADEMY CNS)
The agency urge those partici- pating creating the boxes to fol- low their local state restrictions on mask-wearing, social distanc- ing and hand sanitizing if they planned to have a small group come together to pack them. Volunteers at drop-off locations planned to wear personal protec- tive equipment and have proce- dures in place for "a touch-free ex- perience for donors."
In this undated photo, volunteers with Florida- based Cross Catholic Outreach, a global relief and development agency, pack Boxes of Joy during the coronavirus pandemic. (COURTESY CROSS CATHOLIC OUTREACH CNS)
BOX OF JOY'
Local parishes to participate in Cross Catholic Outreach's annual programPrevious Page