Brimfield, Williamsfield churches will again serve as Box of Joy drop-off sites

Last year, Cross Catholic Outreach was able to send 75,797 boxes filled with small toys, books, toothbrushes, crayons and rosaries, among other things, to children in need in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Grenada, Bahamas, and El Salvador.

BRIMFIELD — Charity knows no season and that’s why St. Joseph in Brimfield and St. James in Williamsfield are going ahead with plans to serve as a drop-off site for Box of Joy again this year.

“In and out of season, virus or no virus, children still need to experience the love of Jesus,” Father John Verrier, pastor of both parishes, said about participating in the Christmas ministry sponsored by Cross Catholic Outreach.

Last year, Cross Catholic was able to send 75,797 boxes filled with small toys, books, toothbrushes, crayons and rosaries, among other things, to children in need in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Grenada, Bahamas and El Salvador.

“In and out of season, virus or no virus, children still need to experience the love of Jesus.” — Father John Verrier, pastor

The Brimfield and Williamsfield parishes were responsible for 754 of those boxes with help from St. Anthony in Bartonville, St. John the Baptist in Bradford, St. Joseph School in Pekin, St. Jude Parish and School in Peoria, St. John the Baptist in Rapids City and St. Mary in Hampton, and St. Augustine in St. Augustine. That was 103 boxes more than they were able to send in 2018, said Tina Windish, project leader.

In addition, the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women gathered and sent more than 300 boxes from 13 parishes and several individuals.

From drop-off sites like Brimfield, shipping boxes packed with the shoebox-sized Boxes of Joy are sent to Cross Catholic in Florida, where they are checked and then distributed. For many children, this is the only gift they will receive at Christmas, officials said.

CHANGES FOR 2020

Windish said activity for Box of Joy kicks off in September and she will make boxes available by Oct. 1.  They may be picked up and returned at either the Brimfield or Williamsfield church when they are open, but there is another option.

“An issue we have is our church is locked most of the time now and we don’t have quite as many parishioners coming to Mass,” Windish said, citing pandemic concerns. “One of our parishioners works at the Brimfield Village Hall. She’s there three days a week and she’s going to let me put boxes there to be picked up and full boxes can be dropped off there.”

Those who are interested may stop at the village hall at 106 E. Knoxville St. on Monday, Wednesday or Friday, from 8 a.m. to noon or from 1 to 5 p.m.

As in previous years, people will still be able to bring their filled boxes to Harrison Hall, 320 E. Illinois St., in Brimfield during Box of Joy Week, which is Nov. 7-15. To provide a safe environment with proper social distancing, appointments are required and may be made by calling Windish at (309) 742-3081.

A $9 check made out to Cross Catholic Outreach is requested for each box to help with shipping it to its final destination.

Acknowledging that there are those who don’t feel comfortable going out to shop at this time, she said donations are accepted gratefully and will be used by Team Joy volunteers to pack boxes for you. A check made payable to St. Joseph Catholic Church (put “Box of Joy” in the memo line) may be mailed to the church at P.O. Box 199, Brimfield, IL 61517.

Cross Catholic Outreach also offers an option that allows people to participate through its website. Visit crosscatholic.org and click on the links for “Box of Joy” and “Create-A-Box Online.”

“It’s not too late for a church or a group or a school to get started now,” Windish told The Catholic Post. “They can get you the supplies. They make it so easy.”

The deadline to sign up is Oct. 30. For more information, send an email to BoxofJoy@CrossCatholic.org or call (800) 914-2420, ext. 142.

Father Verrier said Box of Joy is the right opportunity at the right time.

“I think that right now there’s a lot of chaos in the world. The evil one wants to tear down and divide, whereas Jesus wants to build up and unite us,” he said. “I think projects like this unite people.”

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