by Rick & Sharon Hindery, ISC Volunteers
We have found that the COVID challenges of last year have disrupted our weekly Sunday morning stint at ISC. No longer has it been the visit with Captain and crew, assess their needs, host the crew members at the center, arrange shopping trips to Walmart and occasionally, other locations in the Golden Isles. The COVID has put almost all ships on quarantine lock-down. Rarely, were we invited up past the security station at the top of the ramp or gangway! The ISC’s adjustment to these constraints became an order form with an accompanying picture-listing of snacks and personal items that we carry in our center on Colonel’s Island. We would leave the list and return a few hours later with the idea that each seafarer could “order” items off the list and we would deliver them to the ship directly. We soon found that we were also making shopping runs to Walmart for other things that we do not carry. These included food items like donuts, sheet cakes, ice cream, chocolates, almond milk, as well as laundry detergent and a wide variety of vitamins and supplements. In our new role as “personal shoppers,” we have also procured things like electric tooth brushes (pink), boxing gloves, portable speakers, large rice cooker, Mixmaster stand mixer (specifically in red), and Apple watches. We realized that many of these things were not really for the seafarer himself, but gifts for their families back home - things that are easier/cheaper to get here in the states.
A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of meeting with a ship at Mayor’s Point, the Saga Viking, which had just arrived from Sweden, with its cargo of construction lumber – you know 2x4s and 2x6s – literally, a whole boatload of it! We actually were allowed on the ship and invited to the crew lounge for lunch. The Master arrived with his phone and asked me if we could get him some blackout curtains for his daughters' room. He was very specific – they were available on Amazon, but as I explained to him, there was no way I could guarantee that we would receive them before they left a few days hence…so sorry. We left the “concierge” form with the crew with the promise to return later in the day to pick it up. When we returned, the Captain asked if we could order the curtains and have them delivered to their agency in Florida. They would be there the in a week…should be enough time to get them in the promised delivery window. He then showed me a picture of his two beautiful girls. Ok, so we agreed, and he gave us the shipping address. We said we would return the next day, after ordering, to collect the money and give him the delivery information. When we returned, we found several other guys that wanted specific things that were only available online and they also wanted them shipped to the agency’s location. When we asked why they didn’t ask sooner, we were told that at other ports, they would get visited and sold some SIM cards and then that was the last they saw anyone. They did not think that someone would actually try to get them what they were looking for. So, when we later returned, they released their pent up desires and requests flowed in. We took the challenge to heart and found them what they wanted - everything from vitamins, Apple watches, a gaming computer, computer games, wireless speaker, head phones, to a laser beam party light…and much more. It turns out that they wanted to just have a party on board to break the monotony of COVID. For all of this, they paid us in cash, with the understanding that if there was a problem with a delivery or such, we would not be able to help. They trusted us and in God that this would all work out and thankfully it did. We must say, we were a bit nervous! About a week later, we got an email from the Master. When they arrived in Florida, all items ordered arrived in time and were waiting for them – including the party lights. We are now looking forward to a message with a picture of the party!