Robin Stroot: Christmas at Sea program worth crafting time | opinion

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A charity I regularly contribute some of my craft projects to is the Seaman’s Church Institute program called Christmas at Sea. This is an organization that has been serving mariners on riverways and oceans since being founded in 1834.

I discovered the Christmas at Sea program in February 1997 through a featured article in one of my knitting magazines. Christmas at Sea is a program in which an itinerary is kept on specific ships that will be sailing on the seas on Christmas Day. Each sailor on the ship receives at least one gift on Christmas Day. According to the newsletter, there are times where the CAS item is the only gift the mariners receive on Christmas Day.

I made a long-distance call and had them send a copy of the knit/crochet patterns to my home. The patterns arrived in April 1997 and I started my first knit project for CAS. The projects are specifically designed to suit the needs of the mariners.

I started knitting for this organization because I felt it was a way to honor my late brother. He suddenly passed away in 1985 and was a US Navy veteran. I also have some other family members that served in the US Navy and the US Coast Guard. I read the mission of this particular organization and found it was a worthy cause to spend some of my craft time making items for CAS.

Recently I received the winter 2022 newsletter from the CAS program. On average, I send anywhere from 10-20 hand-knit items each year to CAS. It was only a few knit items and I didn’t think it would make that much difference. (I found out that every donation makes a difference to each of the mariners as shared by the sincere thank you notes featured in a few pages of the newsletter.)

The newsletter explained the process of what happens to every donation. I was surprised by the numbers shared in the newsletter. There are about 934 volunteers that created 23,055 knit/crochet garments and 4,323 ditty bags (sewn, drawstring bags) for mariners making a total of 26,378 items for CAS program for one year. Some of the donations are made by individuals (like myself) or organizations such as a church, knit/crochet and sewing groups. According to their map, Nebraska has seven crafters/groups that send items to the CAS program. I know my friend and I are two of the seven donating crafters.

Once items are received, they are catalogued, sorted and packed for delivery to different ports for delivery onto the ships. A day called Port Packing Day is done by many volunteers who help get the items ready for delivery to individual ships and waterway river vessels. Then the packaged are loaded onto the ships for opening on Christmas Day.

I’m glad to share some of my craft time for CAS. For more information, patterns, etc., visit the Christmas at Sea website.

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