Seafarers who are working harder than ever this year to ensure goods are delivered in time for the festivities are not being forgotten by maritime charities around the world.
Stella Maris has chaplains and ship visitors in ports in the UK and worldwide who 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 also take with them the much appreciated 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.
Stella Maris chief executive Martin Foley said: '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.'
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', said Mr Foley.
'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.'
Similar gift boxes were wrapped for seafarers by residents and volunteers at the Nautilus Welfare Fund's Mariners' Park in the UK .
Sailors' Society chaplains have also provided early visits from Santa for visiting crew to the UK, distributing thousands of gifts packed for seafarers by its volunteers.
As travelling is tricky for many people, the charity also created a video of its Christmas carol service to share the Christmas spirit with supporters, teams, seafarers and their families around the world.
Many charities have also launched winter appeals to further support crew in 2022.
- More information on Stella Maris, its support for seafarers over Christmas, and its Christmas Appeal can be found here
- More information on Sailors' Society's and the online collection it holds as part of its carol service to support its work in helping seafarers in need can be found here
- The ITF Seafarers' Trust has also launched an online collection of images to celebrate seafarers' contributions during the pandemic which can be viewed here
Image: Stella Maris port chaplain for East Anglia and Haven Ports, Julian Wong, hands out a gift bag to a seafarer in Felixstowe.
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