A New Way to Give for Christmas with SCI

Jul 7, 2008

Having collected Christmas gifts for mariners for 110 years, the programs “Christmas at Sea” and “Christmas on the River” of the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) have been helping to make a family holiday warm for those away from home at Christmastime. Each year, SCI delivers Christmas gifts to an often unrecognized workforce of the global economy, the world’s mariners. The centerpiece of the Christmas package is a hand-knitted cap and scarf. These items are, like the mariners SCI serves, from various locations, knitted by volunteers and collected at SCI Headquarters in New York.

Along with a personal letter, the gift packages contain useful items for the mariner—things like shoelaces, fingernail clippers, and sewing kits. In the past, SCI purchased these items to include with the contributed knitted items. “This year, however,” announces Program Manager Jeanette DeVita, “we’re giving those who perhaps want to donate a little something extra or those who want to participate in the Christmas gift program but don’t knit a way to do that.”

DeVita explains, “The gift programs of SCI provide a way that everyone—various groups and individuals—can make a difference in the way a stranger, the mariner delivering the goods that will make their Christmases possible, a little warmer and brighter.”

In consultation with chaplains and the mariners whom they serve, SCI has produced a list of items that will be included in the Christmas gift boxes this year. The list includes hand lotion, lip balm, books, and activities. SCI stipulates that the donated items should be in new, unused condition. For a full list of the items with important specifications, click the image below to download a PDF brochure. SCI Program Director DeVita encourages that people circulate the list, which tells of SCI’s mission to mariners and their need for volunteers and support.

In 2007, Christmas at Sea distributed over 17,000 gifts to mariners, whether they traveled across the world’s oceans or along the rivers of our nation. With your help, SCI plans to make this nuber even greater, reaching more of these hard-working men and women who are away from family.

To ship items or get more information, contact Jeanette DeVita, Program Manager, at cas@seamenschurch.org