DUNDALK, Md. (WJZ) — Many of the ships arriving at the Port of Baltimore are from far away from countries with predominantly Catholic populations. The Baltimore Archdiocese reaches out to those sailors.
Ron Matz reports the help is just in time for the holidays.
About 1,300 gifts are piled high at the Stella Maris International Seafarers Center. Sailors from around the world come here to feel at home.
“Their contracts can be anywhere from four to 10 months. That’s four to 10 months away from their home and church,” said Andy Middleton, Director of Operations for the Apostle Ship of the Sea in Dundalk. “We’re the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s ministry to seafarers that visit the Port of Baltimore. We simply provide them a smiling face and a little bit of hospitality here when they visit the Port of Baltimore.”
The Archdiocese has a special program for the holidays. Gifts are donated by parishes and other Catholic organizations in Baltimore.
“This time of year we run a shoebox program where we get shoeboxes filled with toiletries and cards and candies and things the seafarers can use on board ships. They are generously donated by parishes, religious groups, men’s organizations and so on,” said Middleton.
The sailors can also come to the center for some basic services, including telephones and computers.
“We currently have four computers and three laptops. We are wi-fi capable. They can check their e-mails and use Skype to call back home and see mom, dad, wife and the kids. We also have five phones they can use to call home,” said Middleton.
It’s a home away from home for those from far away places, and a special delivery for the holidays.
“We then deliver them on to the ship, just to give them a little gift this time of year and make sure they know they are not forgotten,” said Middleton.
An estimated 500 sailors will be receiving the gifts over the next two weeks.
Each year approximately 2,500 ships visit the port. On every ship there are anywhere from 20 to 30 seafarers from all over the world.