St. Joseph Church, Brimfield, a regional drop-off site for ‘Box of Joy’ campaign

Children in Guatemala celebrate receiving "Boxes of Joy" through a campaign sponsored by Cross Catholic Outreach. This year, St. Joseph Church in Brimfield is a regional drop-off center for the boxes, which are to contain gifts for impoverished children in the Caribbean and Central America. (CNS/Cross Catholic Outreach)

BRIMFIELD — Providing holiday hope and joy to poor children halfway around the world may seem like a daunting task, but members of St. Joseph Parish in Brimfield and St. James Parish in Williamsfield are determined to do what they can, one child at a time.

The Brimfield church has become a drop-off center for Cross Catholic Outreach’s Box of Joy campaign, which invites people to fill a shoebox-size container with gifts for a girl or boy ages 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14, and include a check for $9 to help with shipping from Florida to the box’s destination. While they may be left in the church vestibule at any time before Sunday, Nov. 12, a collection party is planned for Saturday, Nov. 11, in St. Joseph’s Harrison Hall, 320 E. Illinois St., in Brimfield.

The festivities start after the 5 p.m. Mass and include a meal of hot dogs, nachos, hot chocolate and lemonade. Table service will be provided, but those who attend are asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share.

Packed Box of Joy boxes will also be accepted at Harrison Hall from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11, and Sunday, Nov. 12. After that, the boxes will be loaded on to a truck from Cross Catholic Outreach and taken to where they will be shipped. This year’s destinations include Haiti, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, according to Tina Windish, the project coordinator in Brimfield.

SHOWING SOLIDARITY

“This is the fourth year Cross is doing this. The first year they collected 2,693 boxes and last year they collected 31,712,” she told The Catholic Post. “That shows how much they’ve grown in a short time.”

The organization reported that there were 315 participating parishes, schools and groups in 2016, which utilized 73 drop-off centers in 48 states.

Windish said the Brimfield and Williamsfield parishes filled 146 boxes last year, which was their first experience with the program, and took them to a drop-off center in St. Louis. To give more people in central Illinois an opportunity to participate, St. Joseph in Brimfield applied to be a drop-off center for the 2017 gift campaign.

They received 200 Box of Joy boxes this year and are hoping to fill at least 175. “You want to do more than last year,” Windish said.

The need is great, Father John Verrier, pastor, wrote in a letter inviting parishes around the Diocese of Peoria to join them.

“Every year, thousands of poor children experience a Christmas without hope. Burdened by poverty, their parents are simply too poor to provide anything but the most basic necessities,” he said. “Providing gift boxes shows our solidarity with others and answers the beautiful call to give more than we receive that is highlighted during the Christmas season.”

Windish said people from outside the two parishes may stop by each church and take Box of Joy boxes to fill. Those who are interested can also fill a box or plastic container that is the size of a shoebox and bring that.

The tops should be secured with a rubber band, not tape.

If they can’t fill a box themselves, they are welcome to bring gift items to the collection party. These items will either be used to fill boxes or sent to Florida and packed in Box of Joy boxes there, Windish said.

For more information, call Windish at (309) 742-3081 or visit crosscatholic.org/boxofjoy.

 

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