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Ditty Bags

During the holidays, the Center provides every seafarer with a ditty bag. Throughout the year, there are many opportunities to participate in the ditty bag project. If you knit or sew, we welcome your hand crafted bags and hats. If you shop, we welcome your offerings of basic toiletries. If you are interested in organizing a ditty bag stuffing party, we can help you plan that. Finally, every November we hold a ditty bag stuffing party. Come join the fun as we finish preparing these great gifts for people.

What is a ditty bag?


Do you use a small travel bag to hold important essentials when you take a trip? If so, you already use a ditty bag, or something like one! At the Seattle Seafarers’ Center, we provide about 1,000 ditty bags to merchant seafarers with bags full of all kinds of basic necessities each year.


What goes into a ditty bag?

At a minimum, all bags should include the following:

  • an adult-sized knit hat

  • full size (please no travel size) bottle of shampoo and/or body wash

  • full size toothpaste

  • toothbrush

  • deodorant

  • shaving cream

  • 1-2 razors

You can optionally include additional items such as:

  • candy or snacks (ex. individually wrapped chocolate, nuts, or trail mix)

  • deck of cards or other small games

  • notepad and pen/pencil

  • hand or body lotion

  • socks or gloves

  • a hand-written card

  • something else special !


When and why does the Center give away ditty bags?


We typically give ditty bags to seafarers from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Starting in 2022, thanks to many generous gifts, we have been able to give away ditty bags every month of the year. It is part of the way we welcome and care for seafarers who are berthed during the holidays. It is a wonderful way to give thanks for these essential and often hidden essential workers.


How can you contribute?


There are lots of ways to participate. You can make drawstring bags or knit hats. You can purchase supplies and then drop them off. You can contribute money that is used to buy more supplies for ditty bags. Finally, you can come to one of our “stuffing parties,” when we gather to stuff bags, meet one another, and celebrate seafarers.


If you interested in sewing ditty bags, here are instructions


If you are interested in knitting hats, here are a few suggested patterns.

If you are interested in joining us to stuff bags, the next Ditty Bag Day is scheduled for November 19, 2022 at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in West Seattle. Join us anytime between 10:00am-noon that day!

Interested in learning more?


Check out this YouTube video from King County Maritime about the ditty bag program.

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