by Susan Huppert, NAMMA
On Christmas Eve, volunteers from the Quebec Seamen’s Club (la Maison du Marin Québec) delivered the final gift boxes amid frigid temps to the ships in the port. The 35-year tradition continues to echo the initial mission of the outreach, to bring human warmth and support to the sailors in the Port of Quebec, Canada.
A dedicated volunteer, Lucie Ricard, was available for the final box delivery as ships prepared to sail.
“I am really, really impressed with this specific tradition,” she commented. “I am most touched by how the seafarers act when they receive the gifts.
“They are sensitive to human warmth. That’s what we do with these boxes. We put items in, but also a lot of love.”
The center was closed last year due to the pandemic. There was no ship visiting. No Christmas boxes were given. Before the pandemic, 700 gift boxes were distributed each Christmas. Some donors and participants have dropped off.
This year, thanks to $400USD grant funds from the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, distributed by the North American Maritime Ministry Association, more boxes were filled and distributed to smiling seafarers thankful to be remembered at Christmas. More than 200 total gifts were given this year in the Port of Quebec.
“We are really appreciative of the grant,” said Jean Laporte, Executive Director of the Quebec Seamen’s Club. “This is really special assistance to the amazing network of people throughout the province that still sent items to add to the boxes.”
Seafarers dressed in thick winter gear, met volunteers at the gangway to receive Christmas boxes filled with caps, gloves, personal hygiene products and more.
The Seamen’s Club is a physical location that welcomes all mariners at the Port of Québec. It’s a place to gather, have fun, and talk with other mariners or with loved ones, often using the free Wi-Fi. The Club operates with a team of volunteers actively listening and assisting with any needs seafarers have. The mission, closed since March 2020, was able to reopen in October 2021.
“As soon as we opened, we knew we were still needed,” said Laporte.
With ice hanging on the huge vessels, the crew preparing to sail to Europe or the Far East knew that they were on the radar of the caring people of Quebec.
“This is a very lovely tradition.” said Ricard. “I plan on keeping it going for many years.”