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. This year’s program kicked off in early September and during Box of Joy Collection Week Nov. 6-14, 2021, the boxes are dropped off at various U.S. collection points to be shipped to the children by Cross Catholic Outreach. (CNS photo/Cross Catholic Outreach)

The clustered parishes of St. Peter in Cameron, St. Boniface in Chetek, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Strickland and St. Joseph in Barron have participated in shoebox gift packing for 11 years, sending more than 10,000 boxes, along with messages of God’s love, to children in need.

“Since 2019, we have concentrated these efforts in support of the Cross Catholic Outreach Box of Joy program,” said Patty Gerber, cluster parish director. “We involve all of our parishioners, most especially the families with youth. Children love shopping for other children, especially knowing it might be the only gift they might receive.”

Gerber explained the boxes are packed with small gifts and personal hygiene items. The boxes are then delivered to international sites determined by Cross Catholic Outreach using the opportunity “to introduce the love of God, share the Gospel, and to support local ministries.”

The program provides a unique opportunity for priests, nuns and lay missionaries working in these locations to impact lives and open the door to sharing the gift of Jesus Christ.

Gerber wanted to invite and encourage all parishes in the Diocese of Superior to join their ministry this fall.

Boxes can be packed individually or by school or parish. Details for registering a church group to receive free boxes and instructions can be found at

Online gifting opportunities also available. Learn more at

For information, contact Gerber at 715-642-2560 or .

Important dates to note for the gift box collection: Filled Boxes of Joy should be dropped off at collection sites the week of Nov. 6-14.

In addition to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Barron, Immaculate Conception Church in New Richmond and Holy Rosary Parish in Medford are collection sites. Various Catholic schools participate in the program as well; contact a nearby school to inquire.

Cross Catholic Outreach reported blessing 61,422 children in seven countries through Box of Joy in 2020.