Schools, parishes, families respond generously to ‘Box of Joy’ project

Nympha White (right) accepts 90 Boxes of Joy from Deena Pavinato of Holy Family in Oglesby. It was the first year the parish participated in the Cross Catholic Outreach project to benefit children in need at Christmas. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Christmas will be merrier for 1,203 children in need because caring people of all ages around the Diocese of Peoria sent them a Box of Joy through Cross Catholic Outreach.

That includes 769 boxes brought to the drop-off center sponsored by St. Joseph in Brimfield and St. James in Williamsfield. Tina Windish, project leader, said that in addition to those parishes they also received gift-filled boxes from The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign, St. Joseph School in Pekin, St. Jude Parish and School in Peoria, and St. Augustine, St. Augustine; St. Bernard, Bushnell; St. John the Baptist, Rapids City; St. Mary of the Woods, Princeville; and St. Anthony, Bartonville.

Another 434 boxes were gathered by Nympha White, who chairs the International Concerns Committee of the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and currently serves as director of the Chicago Province of the National Council of Catholic Women.

White picked up or received Boxes of Joy from St. Michael the Archangel, Streator; St. Joseph, Marseilles; St. Patrick, Seneca; St. Patrick, Ransom; Sacred Heart, Granville; St. Joseph, Peru; St. Anthony, Atkinson; St. Louis, Princeton; St. Mary, Westville; St. Paul and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Newman Center, Macomb; St. Mary, Wenona; and a parishioner from St. Patrick, Minonk, and St. Mary, El Paso.

New to the project this year was Holy Family in Oglesby, which collected 90 boxes from the Altar and Rosary Society, as well as the parish and Oglesby Elks. Trustee Deena Pavinato, who brought Holy Family’s boxes to the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria, said they also made a contribution to cover shipping costs for those who might need assistance.

The PDCCW has been involved for five years. Due to the continuing pandemic last year, however, the organization made a monetary donation.


Since Cross Catholic Outreach started Box of Joy in 2014, more than 287,589 shoebox-sized containers filled with small gifts have been sent to children in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada and Honduras for Christmas. This year’s total isn’t available yet, but last year 61,422 children received a Box of Joy.

The Brimfield and Williamsfield parishes have been involved since 2016. Windish said this year’s total of 769 boxes broke the record set in 2019 of 754.

“I was very pleased,” Windish told The Catholic Post. “You always want to do a little bit better than the year before. I’m thrilled.”

She said that because people were wary about being out and shopping last year due to the pandemic, she received more monetary donations. After doing the shopping herself, a small group helped to assemble the boxes.

“This year, most of them did their own shopping again,” she said.

Box of Joy Week was Nov. 6-14, with shipping containers picked up the following week for transport to the National Screening Center in Doral, Florida. They will be sorted there and shipped to their recipients in time for Christmas.

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