Saturday, May 2, 2015

Midshipman Action Group Contributes 26,000 Hours of Community Service

The Naval Academy Midshipman Action Group surpassed its own expectations this academic year, contributing a record 26,000 hours of service to the local and national community.

MAG manages more than 50 projects and 500 midshipman volunteers throughout the year, and their work covers a variety of areas: mentoring and tutoring young students, environmental conservation, fighting hunger, poverty, and homelessness, and promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

“Experiencing the initiative and energy of the Brigade of Midshipmen when it comes to serving the community has been my favorite aspect of my involvement with MAG,” said Midshipman 1st Class Jake Williams, spring semester MAG president. “This energy has been matched by our community partners and as a result MAG has grown to impressive proportions.”

MAG helped organize the September 2014 Bone Marrow Drive, during which they collected 2,014 new registrations into the C.W. Bill Young DoD Marrow Donor Program. The DNA information collected remains in the registry as a potential match for a patient in need of a life-saving transplant.

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

In partnership with the Naval Academy Chaplain’s Office, MAG collected and donated more than 60,000 pounds of food for the Maryland Food and Resource Bank during the annual Harvest for Hungry drive last fall.

Mids devoted time throughout the year to various environmental projects, working with Naval Facilities Washington to clean up Greenbury Point and remove invasive plants, cleaning up the local World War II memorial and Jonas Green Park as part of its 9/11 Day of Remembrance activities, and working with Goshen Farm in Cape St. Claire, Md. Goshen Farm is a historic farm that helps educate the community on organic farming and soil conservation.

Many weekends found MAG midshipmen lined up outside the terminal at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, cheering the arrival of World War II and Korean War veterans coming to the D.C. region as part of the Honor Flight program. Honor Flight provides aging veterans the opportunity to visit their respective memorials in Washington, D.C., for free.

Even during vacations, the MAG midshipmen find ways to step up. During Spring Break, they split into groups to tackle multiple projects around the country. Eleven midshipmen spent the week in Tuscon, Ariz., helping organize activities with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s Boys and Girls Club. Another group traveled to San Diego to spend time clearing trail debris and building counter-erosion structures on the famous Pacific Crest Trail.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

Other midshipmen worked with the United Way on the Jersey Shore helping to rebuild and repair damage remaining from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. And another group spent Spring Break working with New York City students on STEM projects.

And as if they didn’t have enough regularly scheduled projects to manage, midshipmen eagerly took to the streets of Annapolis after the winter storms this year to help citizens shovel snow.

New projects include a computer literacy program led by cyber operations major Midshipman 2nd Class Zac Dannelly, also the MAG president for next semester. Through this project, the mids will work with the Annapolis Boys and Girls Club on computer-based learning projects, helping to give children in underserved communities the computer training necessary for them to be successful in the future.

Most recently, more than 450 midshipmen assisted with this year’s Special Olympics games, hosted on the Naval Academy Yard April 25. In the same weekend, 7,000 discontinued uniform shirts were donated to shelters in the D.C. and Baltimore area.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

The estimated number of lives touched through community service and through in-kind donations such as food and clothing for shelters and food banks is 36,000. And even with the classes ending and exams looming, the mids have no intention of stopping.

In the upcoming weeks, as midshipmen pack up and move out of Bancroft Hall, MAG will collect boxes of gently-used clothing to donate to Linda’s Legacy, a nonprofit organization that provides clothing to the homeless. After the Class of 2018 Herndon climb, they will collect pairs of athletic shoes left behind for the plebes to be donated to Planet Aid.

Midshipmen and community partners will come together May 18 for the Community Service Awards. This ceremony honors the work midshipmen performed in the community throughout the year, and the timing is appropriate as Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides last year declared May 19 as Midshipmen Appreciation Day.

MAG plays an integral part in the moral, mental and physical development of midshipmen into commissioned officers.

“MAG projects foster peer leadership,” said fall semester MAG president Midshipman 1st Class Megan Delage. “The club has over 600 movement orders every year and they are all lead by midshipmen. The coordination with civilian partners, each other, and the academy leadership becomes seamless.

Additionally, Delage said, community service cultivates a sense of service toward others.

“Interacting with the community has helped me become more aware and more compassionate to others' needs,” she said.

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