Christmas At Sea

Since 1898, during the Spanish American War, volunteers of the Seamen’s Church Institute have knitted, collected, packed, and distributed gifts to mariners who are miles away from home during the holidays. The gift consists of a handknit garment, a personal letter, and information on SCI’s services for mariners. In addition to this, SCI also includes several useful items like hand lotion, lip balm, and toothbrushes—things difficult to come by when working long stretches on the water.

Knitting groups around the country connect with SCI in weekly knitting meetings at churches and at knitting-sponsored events. Through sites like Ravelry and the Christmas at Sea Facebook Group, the Institute works with hundreds to make the program effective.

The historic name of this volunteer program, Christmas at Sea, only partially describes the work of the people who make holidays a little warmer for mariners. While gift distribution happens during winter months, collection and creation of items happens year round, and while many gifts go to international mariners working "at sea," thousands of gifts also go to mariners working on inland waterways here in the United States.


Please use patterns written for the SCI Christmas At Sea project.

Remember to use washable wool or wool blends - your finished items must be machine washable.

All projects require worsted weight yarn, except for socks, which use sock weight yarn.

Gift packaging begins right after Labor Day and continues right up until Christmas. You can send items all year long, but it is most helpful to receive items in the fall.

Remember, most mariners are men, so lighter colors are not recommended.

They CANNOT ACCEPT anything that has fringe, tassels, or poms, as these present a safety hazard.


Christmas at Sea
The Seamen's Church Institute
118 Export Street
Port Newark, NJ 07114

Please include your name and address within the package so they can acknowledge its receipt. Also, SCI encourages knitters to include a personal note or photograph.