EVERY year, Sydney marine pilot Michael Kelly spearheads an effort to raise money to purchase Christmas gifts for 1700 seafarers who call into Port Botany over the festive period.

Last week a cross section of the Sydney maritime community gathered at Sister Mary’s humpy to pack the gifts, these included wharfies, pilots, a Manly ferry skipper, the harbour master, Stella Maris volunteers, port officers and seafarers.

Sister Mary (right) and volunteers assembling Christmas packs. Image: Michael Kelly

With the help of donations from Engage Marine, Port Authority of NSW, Sydney pilots, Sydney pilot cutter crews, DP World wharfies, Svitzer, Tas Bull Foundation and individual donations to Sister Mary, the group put together packs that contain a koala, magnet, deodorant, hair shampoo and lip balm.

The most important gift is the Christmas card handwritten by a volunteer telling the seafarer how important they are.

The contents of one of the seafarer Christmas packs. Image: Michael Kelly

Mr Kelly said the joy on the seafarers face seeing us pull up at the wharf and watch us come up the gangway with the bright red Santa sacks makes it all worthwhile.

“Imagine been stuck on a ship for eight months and on Christmas day you don’t get a thing, whilst these seafarers bring all our Christmas gifts from around the world & keep the world ticking over,” he said.

“We are seeing fewer seafarers get ashore these days as they have inspections, less time in port and when you work six hours on six hours off in port you need to sleep.”

Mr Kelly said with the help of the pilots and cutter crews estimates more than 60 ships will receive the Christmas gifts.

To enquire about how to help, contact Sister Mary – on email at Srmaryleahy@gmail.com or at 0418 724 713.