Two groups contributed their skills, their time, and their money to make Christmas a little happier —and warmer— for mariners served by Seafarers International House, based in New York City. The Knit Wits of St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough and the Shrewsbury based Night Knitters created handmade hats and scarves, the basis for 30 gift satchels put together by St. Stephen church volunteers. The kits were also packed with a sweatshirt, a teeshirt, a pair of socks, a can of nuts, and a hand made Christmas card.
Seafarers are often isolated and lonely, sometimes without the means to contact family frequently, or purchase needed items while in port. Typical contracts put most at sea for 10 months a year, and they remain a largely forgotten population at the holidays.
This is the sixth year the St. Stephen knitters made sure Seafarers would be warm and not forgotten at Christmas. In the first year of participation, Saint Stephen sent five kits and they have been increasing their donation each year. Those who knitted, donated, or put together the satchels this year included Janice Conlin, Joyce Danielson, Lina Dickey, Martha Domke, Marlea Dutt, Ginny Fulham, Ann Gibson, Pastor Joe Graumann, Liz Greer, Peg and Don Harbert, Judy Kellogg, Elaine Recklet, Melanie Whapham and Jane Woolsey. Some funding for the sweatshirts was provided through a Thrivent Action Team initiative. Thrivent, a financial services company, supports a variety of outreach projects. The project was organized by Melanie Whapham, who also delivered the gift packages to a Seafarers chaplain in New Haven, Connecticut. An additional 8 hand knitted hats were donated to the Hudson Food Pantry.
Seafarers International House is an ecumenical mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to seafarers and sojourners, as well as people who are distressed, disadvantaged, and displaced. For more information, check out https:/www.sihnyc.org.
Seven Lutheran chaplains support the Seafarers Port Mission. When requested, they will board merchant marine ships to provide pastoral care and counseling. During the holidays, chaplains distribute the packages to ships that port in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia and southern New England that will be out at sea for Christmas.
For more information about the church, visit www.saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org) . The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Stow, and Bolton