Giving back to the Annapolis community is a gesture that midshipmen feel quite strongly about. Being able to volunteer without leaving the campus allows the Brigade greater opportunity to help and serve others. The midshipmen of 6th Company have taken on the duty of arranging an annual holiday tradition, the Giving Tree.
For this service project, and in cooperation with the Salvation Army, the midshipmen of 6th Company are collecting gifts for children who might not otherwise receive any this holiday season.
The first Giving Tree event took place in 1992. It was created and organized by the Midshipmen Action Group in an effort to help needy children. Responsibility for the project was adopted by the 6th Company in 1998 to increasing success and participation.
In keeping with the annual Naval Academy holiday tradition, midshipmen decorate a Giving Tree with ornaments of paper angels. Every paper angel represents a child in need from the greater Annapolis area. These children come from households with parents or guardians who do not have the additional income necessary to purchase holiday gifts and will benefit from the generosity of the community. Listed on each angel are the child’s name, age, gender, and items from their gift wish list or other basic necessities.
To ensure no child goes without during the holiday season, project coordinators for the 6th Company Giving Tree use various methods to ensure news of the event reaches as many midshipmen, faculty, staff, and visitors as possible. Posters are designed and strategically placed around campus, emails are sent, and a public service announcement is released. Creating a Facebook group dedicated to the Giving Tree has also helped 6th Company spread the word and achieve great success.
Midshipmen, as well as Academy faculty and staff, are invited to visit the Giving Tree for the annual tree lighting ceremony, select an angel ornament, and purchase gifts from the wish list for that child. Donated gifts are placed underneath the Giving Tree. The Salvation Army collects, wraps, and distributes these generously donated gifts to the children. Although all donations are anonymous, many will spend hundreds of dollars just to make sure the holiday is a joyous one for an underprivileged child.
The city of Annapolis provides incredible support to the U.S. Naval Academy throughout the year, and the Brigade is always eager to give back, as many midshipmen have sponsor families in the Annapolis area. The Giving Tree is just one way that midshipmen are able to show their appreciation, give back to the community, and demonstrate the spirit of the holiday.
If you are in the Annapolis area this holiday season, please feel free to visit the Naval Academy’s Giving Tree to select an angel and donate gifts from a child’s wish list. The Giving Tree can be found in the Bancroft Hall Rotunda. For those outside of the Annapolis area, consider visiting your local military installation, USO, shopping mall, or any other location with similar opportunities to donate items to a child’s wish list.