SEAFARERS set to spend Christmas away from their families are to receive a festive boost thanks to the overwhelming generosity of residents.
Hartlepool’s Mission to Seafarers Centre, in Seal Sands Road, has collected hundreds of gifts to hand out to seafarers whose ships are docked in the area over the next week.
The mountain of donated gifts have been collected and wrapped into individual parcels by volunteers at the centre over the past few weeks.
Presents, which include gloves, confectionery, aftershave, clothes and toiletries, will be handed to those working on different ships from around the world including Europe and Asia. The Mission to Seafarers Centre gives gifts to seafarers every year and centre bosses say they are always overwhelmed with the generosity of people to help others.The seafarers spend months away from home working in very hostile and dangerous environments and the gifts come as a welcome boost.Lesley Cheyne, an assistant at the centre, said: “We have once again been inundated with presents for the seafarers. It has been a very good year and the generosity of people is overwhelming.
“All different church groups and organisations have supported us from across the region including Hartlepool and Seaton Carew.”
Mr Cheyne added: “The seafarers are away from home for months at a time and it is great for them to receive a gift and open it on Christmas Day.
“It really brightens up their Christmas, whether they are in the docks or out at sea.”
The Mission to Seafarers Centre is open all year round and provides a vital lifeline to those away from home and provides a chance for them to relax and contact their friends and family back home via email and telephone.
Every year hundreds of presents are handed out by the charity, which is part of the Anglican Church and church groups donated gifts, while the centre also receives donations from schools.
More than 1,000 seafarers visit the centre every month from countries across Europe and Asia. It was opened in 1996 by Princess Anne and facilities include a shop, pool table, television, computer, chapel and reading room.
The centre is open 11am to 11pm Monday to Friday - including Christmas Day and Boxing Day - and between 3pm and 11pm on weekends.
For more information or to volunteer your services call the centre on (01642) 546424.