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Agency's gift boxes provided by donors bring joy to children in Haiti


  • Children in Les Cayes, Haiti, open presents March 22 that they received through the Box of Joy program of Cross Catholic Outreach, a Florida based relief and development agency. (CNS photo/courtesy of Cross Catholic Outreach)
  • Children in Camp Perrin, Haiti, open presents March 22 they received through the Box of Joy program of Cross Catholic Outreach, a Florida based relief and development agency. (CNS photo/courtesy of Cross Catholic Outreach)
  • Jim Cavnar, president of Florida-based Cross Catholic Outreach, is interviewed by the media in Camp Perrin, Haiti, March 22. (CNS photo/courtesy of Cross Catholic Outreach)

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LES CAYES, Haiti (CNS) -- Teenager Syndia Joseph said she had never received a gift in her life.

Nor had most of the children in remote Camp Perrin. So when Cross Catholic Outreach's Box of Joy program visited to deliver thousands of gift boxes provided by people across the United States, many children literally didn't know what to do.

All seemed appreciative, but many also appeared apprehensive to dive into their presents.

"It's really a shock," said Box of Joy director Steve Bostian. "Many of the things they receive, they don't know what they are. The poverty is so extreme here that I think they are in shock."

People in 46 U.S. states filled shoebox-sized containers with small toys, hygiene items or treats last fall and those "Boxes of Joy" have been distributed in recent weeks to children in poverty in Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Haiti by Cross Catholic Outreach, a relief and development agency based in Boca Raton, Florida.

Children at the Project Hope South Catholic school and orphanage in Les Cayes, along with those in Camp Perrin and Torbeck, received their gifts March 22-23.

It's the third year for Box of Joy, and Bostian said almost 32,000 children will benefit from the program during this campaign, including about 10,000 in Haiti, considered the poorest country in the Americas by World Bank.

Syndia's gift box included a ball, toothbrush, ruler and socks.

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