PORT Authority of NSW marine pilot Michael Kelly and Stella Maris chaplain Sister Mary Leahy have joined forces again this year to pack hundreds Christmas presents for visiting seafarers.
The initiative has become somewhat of a tradition at Port Botany – Mr Kelly suggested the idea of delivering gifts to seafarers around five years ago, and since then the number of packages delivered each year has increased from 800 to around 1800.
Volunteers from around the port community stopped by Sister Mary’s humpy throughout the day to be involved in the operation. Some were off duty for the day and others and others came to help out in their work breaks.
Donations this year are coming from Port Authority’s pilots, cutter crews, port officers and vessel traffic services, Engage Towage tug crews, Ausbarge, Sydney Pilots Association, DP World wharfies, Synergy Marine Group as well as maritime charity Stella Maris and the local port welfare committee.
“The aim is, from today until Christmas, every ship gets a bag,” Mr Kelly said.
“The idea is when we bring a ship in the pilot asks the captain how many crewmembers are on board … and when the pilot sails we can put that number of packages in the bag and then give it to the ships.
“Everyone gets a Christmas card. A lot of our kids did them. And then I put a letter in the Santa sack to the captain to say who it’s from,” Mr Kelly said.
Sister Mary supplied the team with Santa hats and fruit mince pies. Her humpy was being used as a temporary storage space for piles of boxes containing gifts for seafarers.
“We’ve got 2000 koalas, and then we have with them a lovely beer stubby … and we’ve got the little fridge magnet, and then we’ve got a little cologne,” she said.
Mr Kelly said he receives feedback from captains about how much seafarers appreciate the gifts.
“It’s nice to know a small gesture on our part can have a huge impact on someone’s welfare,” he said.