In this year of the pandemic, many of us have changed the way we live. Some of us have avoided air travel and hotel stays when not absolutely necessary; however, there is one industry which has not experienced closings and cancellations, and that is the international shipping of freight and commodities. This situation will be changing soon, I hope, and some shipping companies have now requested ship visits. We are planning to continue with Christmas at Sea this year, but in light of the current pandemic, our methods will change, and we will pack ships’ boxes instead of individual gift bags. A ship box will include the usual individual gifts of a mariner’s watch cap or scarf along with a pair of athletic socks and other small items. As sample collection has dwindled due to lack of normal travel and changes in the hotel industry, we are offering large containers of shampoo and conditioner for the ship.

Here’s what you can give to help the project: DVD movies (used or new), large containers of nuts, store-bought or homemade Christmas cookies for the crew after the third Sunday in Advent (there are 15- 22 crew on each ship), a spare Christmas ornament for the ship’s Christmas tree, a large package of hard candy. If you like making arrangements, consider making an artificial flower arrangement or wreath for the mess hall. Donations of extra ball caps and jackets are always welcome. If you send Christmas cards, donate one to a ship.

This year, we want to remind the crews that they have not been forgotten. Christmas is always a lonely time of year for the mariner, and this Christmas may present even more mental and spiritual stress. Let us at Bethesda shine the light of Christ on those who often work in darkness, reminding the mariners who call at the Port of Palm Beach that we care. Please email Deacon Clay at with any questions you have.

Donations can be dropped off in the collection bins in the cloister just off the loop at Bethesda.

Deacon Clay