Holy Trinity provides for those on the river

Published 1:40 pm Saturday, November 21, 2015

Not everyone will be home for Christmas, and Church of the Holy Trinity is reaching out to those working on the river.

For the eleventh year, Holy Trinity is participating in Christmas on the River, a program where they pack boxes of items for towboats assigned to them by Seamen’s Church Institute based out of New York City.

“The focus of the gift is a handcrafted item, either a cap or a scarf,” Rector Beth Palmer said. “I say handcrafted because I’m a knitter, Jan’s a crocheter, but it’s to be made by hand.”

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Church member Jan Cooper was able to crochet over 100 hats on her own for the boxes this year.

“It’s nice to do,” Cooper said. “They appreciate getting the boxes.”

Church members fill the donated boxes with handmade hats, chap stick, candy, children-made Christmas cards, paperback books and this year they added two new items: DVDs and cookbooks.

Palmer thought cookbooks would be a good idea since most of the time the crew does the cooking on the vessels. The books will provide them some new ideas for meals, and the DVDs provide entertainment for when the television signal is not clear. The main gift, though, is the one they make themselves.

Holy Trinity’s SCI representative is their former rector Michael C. Nation. He drove from New Orleans to deliver the 57 boxes for 388 mariners at different local companies like Ergon Marine and Industrial Supply, Golding Barge Line, Yazoo River Towing Company and Magnolia Marine Transport. Nation gives the boxes to the base location early so they can be distributed to the boats by Christmas Day.

“These men and women that ply the waters of the Mississippi River and her tributaries, they work 24 hours a day seven days a week, and they keep our way of life possible,” Nation said. “They literally keep the lights on. They push the coal to the power plants. Steve Golding and his boats deliver gasoline and diesel.”

Palmer said the ministry makes sense for her congregation because many of their members like Steve and Melody Golding, J.O. and Patrick Smith and Jim Smith work in the industry.

It all started for Holy Trinity in 2004 after the tragic death of Jinx Smith in a river related accident. The church discovered SCI, and in his memory began to volunteer their efforts for Christmas on the River.

Each year the number of mariners that Holy Trinity cares for has grown with the growing number of people out on the water. The church blessed the boxes Sunday before they were sent off. Boxes can go from Corpus Christi to Chicago to Pittsburg and beyond. Wherever the boats are stationed, the boxes will follow.

“I always say this is charity in the true sense of the term,” Nation said. “It’s just an act of love, and it’s just an act of saying thank you for what you do.”

The SCI is affiliated with the Episcopal Church and helps make sure those working on the river have a happy holiday in addition to providing “pastoral care, maritime education and legal advocacy services to mariners.”