In today’s podcast, Leanna Holmes, Development Officer for Cross Catholic Outreach, discusses Box of Joy – a charitable initiative providing for impoverished children around the world in the name of Christ. Leanna explains how the program works, how to get involved and her own experience with the organization.
Leanna first became involved with Cross Catholic Outreach in her work as a youth minister at a new parish. She hoped to take a group of high school students to Guatemala, and persistently advocated for the project at the parish. “A year later, 10 of us from the parish raised $23,000 in six months, and we were able to donate $6,000 to a water project in a community in Guatemala” “I was a comfortable Catholic for years, and when I got there and just met the love of those who are living in extreme poverty, Christ lived so abundantly in those people, I finally met Christ face-to-face,” she says. “And so it was a really powerful experience, and I knew that I had to do more, so when I got back from the trip, I applied for a job for Cross.”
Leanna also discusses those she encountered during her trip who helped bring her experience to life, especially a woman named Umbelina, who is a wife, mother to eight children, and catechist for her village. “At the time when I met her…one of the members of her family had to wait 18 hours for a five gallon bucket of water. She had a house with a dirt floor, and a stove that put smoke into her home that they would have to breathe in. One thing I was completely surprised by is that there’s such a lack of priests in Guatemala…they would only see a priest about once every eight weeks, so her and her husband would walk hours to the Cathedral, get the consecrated Eucharist, walk it back to their village so they could do a Communion service every Sunday…But what blew me away was, here I stood in front of her…[with] everything the world could give me, and she looked at me and she said, ‘I’m praying for you. And I pray that the Lord blesses you and blesses your family,’ …in that moment I was completely humbled, because, she had this love for me…that could only come from the Savior.”
“This is a way that Catholics, groups, schools, parishes, even individuals can support the poorest of the poor in a fun and simple way.” Volunteers receive a gift box, which they can fill with small toys, hygiene items, or school supplies for children between the ages of two and fourteen. Complete boxes will be shipped to the Cross Catholic screening center in Miami for distribution. A small donation in each box is put toward the child’s community to help fund resources like housing, education, and medicine. “So just by packing this small box of joy, you are actually creating long-lasting change in that child’s community for generations.” (Original Air 11-07-18)
Photo Credit: (CNS photo/courtesy Cross Catholic Outreach)