Global maritime charity Stella Maris is bringing Christmas cheer and support to seafarers who are working harder than ever this year to ensure goods are delivered in time for the festivities. The organisation’s chaplains and ship visitors in ports in the UK and worldwide are visiting as many ships as they can to distribute Christmas shoeboxes and gift bags packed full of warm clothing, toiletries, mince pies, chocolate and Christmas cards written to seafarers by the charity’s supporters.
Hundreds of these shoeboxes have already been given out at ports in the UK, and more will be handed out over the next few weeks until after the New Year.
Besides the presents, Stella Maris chaplains and ship visitors take with them mobile phone top-up cards and mobile WiFi units, so that seafarers can contact their families back home during the festive period. They also take crew members to Mass or organise Christmas services, if Covid-19 guidelines permit.
“Like most of us, seafarers have had a difficult couple of years due to the pandemic. Many are facing Christmas away from home, some for a second consecutive year,” said Stella Maris Chief Executive Martin Foley.
“Seafarers have also had to deal with supply chain delays, reduced or no shore leave, extended time on board, and worries about providing for their families. Many seafarers are exhausted,” he added.
Martin said Christmas provides a good opportunity to show gratitude to the men and women of the sea, in what can be a lonely time of the year as they go about their shifts in port or on the ocean.
“Giving seafarers gifts reminds them that people care and are thinking of them at Christmas. These small acts of kindness are often met with much thanks and happy smiles.”
More information on Stella Maris, its support for seafarers over Christmas, and its Christmas Appeal can be found here: https://www.stellamaris.org.uk/christmas