Every Christmas, as the cold winds of December blow through the Port of Montreal, arriving seafarers are welcomed with gift boxes packed and wrapped with the love of Christ by Christian Reformed people across Eastern Canada.
The seafarers are thrilled to receive these gifts. Since they spend long periods at sea missing important holidays at home, they are grateful that strangers think of them. “Sometimes we’ll see them wearing their gifts. Hats and mittens are always appreciated, as the weather in Montreal can be quite a bit colder than many seafarers are used to,” said Michelle DePooter, chaplain for the CRC’s Ministry to Seafarers (M2S). M2S works with other church ministries at Mariner’s House, a seaman’s club that provides physical and spiritual support to seafarers while they are in Montreal.
Each year, M2S delivers more than 1,500 parcels, one for each seafarer who comes to Montreal during the Christmas season. “We really rely on the churches for this campaign. It’s a part of our ministry we are excited about because it brings together the churches, mainly across Ontario, who prepare presents year after year to give to all the seafarers,” said DePooter. “And every year, God always provides the number of presents we need.”
The presents are already being delivered and will continue to be given until early January. The parcels contain items like toothpaste, shampoo, hats and mittens, and treats. Each gift also includes a letter from the chaplain explaining why these presents are given. In previous years, seafarers received a Bible in their native language. This year they are receiving a 10-day devotional that shares the meaning of Christmas.