Church of the Holy Trinity will be gathering gifts for annual event

Published 7:59 pm Thursday, September 6, 2018

Every year, a group of people gather at Church of the Holy Trinity on Oct. 1 to prepare gifts for the towboat crews that ply the Mississippi River.

The volunteers who put these boxes together are working with the Seaman’s Church Institute, which serves the spiritual needs of men and women who work on ocean-going ships and towboats that travel the rivers in the U.S.

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The church began participating in the Christmas on the River program in 2005, after the death of Jinx Smith Sr., a member of Church of the Holy Trinity who died in an accident at Big River Shipbuilding, which was owned by his family.

“(Former rector) Micheal Nation felt that it would be a great thing for us, specifically the Church of the Holy Trinity, and we did,” said church member Marie Cunningham. “It was like helping out family.”

Nation, she said, later became a chaplain for the Seamen’s Church, adding the Rev. Sam Godfrey, rector of Christ Episcopal Church is now working with the group.

“The idea (of the boxes) is a ‘letting you know we’re thinking of you’ kind of thing,” Cunningham said.

“Keeping in mind that these people rotate shifts, they might not be able to get anywhere near home. The technology may be better (to allow boat workers to communicate with families) but still it’s the thought that counts, and Seamen’s Church Institute is a world mission.”

She said items for the boxes are collected during the year, and include items such as with handmade hats, chap stick, candy, children-made Christmas cards, paperback books, DVDs and cookbooks.

“The institute wants handmade knit items like a cap, a neck scarf or a cowl, a scarf that you wear over your head, and they provide patterns, but we get the bulk of our knitted items from the home office, because there is no way we can knit all that,” Cunningham added.

She said the boxes are delivered to the towboat companies and they distribute them to the boats, “Although one year they were delivered to the boats themselves.”

People wanting to donate to Christmas on the River program can call Cunningham at 601-629-7123, Jan Cooper at 601-415-0869, or Church of the Holy Trinity at 601-635-0542.

Needed items include:

• Unscented, Colorless Lip Balm

• Unscented, Hypoallergenic Hand Lotion (2-4oz bottles)

  Sealed Packages of Holiday Sweets

  Activity books like Sudoku, word searches, or playing cards

• Facial Tissues

  Microwave Popcorn

  Chewing Gum

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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