This week, our team started delivering holiday care packages to seafarers on each of our ship visits. It is always a joy to bring these gifts onboard. Some crews dig through them right away, each seafarer picking out their favorite bag with the hand-knit hat and specific toiletries they prefer. Other crews will put the bags in storage and save them until Christmas or New Years to distribute. Already, many ships have decorated their dining areas with Christmas trees or festive lights. Some crews will soon be in the market for a whole pig they can roast on deck as a traditional celebration.
We are so grateful for the generous support of our donors and volunteers who make our Ditty Bag Program possible and help us give back to these hard-working crews who are away from their families during the holidays.
From going on hundreds of ship visits in the past couple years, I have noticed that there is a deep spirit of generosity at sea. As soon as we take our first step on a ship, we are greeted with a smile and a "Welcome onboard!" When we visit in the late morning, we are bound to receive an invitation to stay for lunch. Sometimes the captain asks the chief cook to prepare special food for us, and we are served a five-course meal. I drove a group of seafarers to Costco last week, and they bought me a bouquet of flowers as a thank-you. When we offered a communion service onboard a ship earlier this month, the crew insisted on taking an offertory to give back to the Center.
Some of you may have heard the following passage read this past Sunday: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." (Matthew 25:35-36)
It is our goal at the Seattle Seafarers Center to welcome and care for the stranger in this way. What I find remarkable is that, in the midst of our work, we are welcomed and fed and cared for by the very seafarers we seek to serve.
In the spirit of generosity, we hope you will consider joining in the global movement of Giving Tuesday. Your gift makes a difference, and we are so appreciative of your support!
Director of Operations