Twenty-four U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen gave up their Thanksgiving holiday to help with Hurricane Sandy relief in New Jersey.
The Midshipman Action Group, which volunteers more than 20,000 hours a year to local and national community service efforts, organized the NJ trip. They worked with the American Red Cross to remove debris and load trucks with supplies for delivery to communities along the shore.
Here's what some of the midshipmen had to say about why they volunteered.
Midshipman First Class Chris Reed— "This is the first Thanksgiving for which I won’t be home; however, I thought about the people in New Jersey that don’t have homes to return to right now. I’m thankful for the fact that I will be able to return home in a few weeks after my exams. Some of the people we’ll be helping still won’t have that opportunity. I wanted to take part in this trip so that I can help those people get back to their homes, family, and friends as fast as possible."
Midshipman Third Class Zachary Blanchard—"Growing up on the South Louisiana coast, I have seen the devastating effects of hurricanes first-hand on several occasions, so it’s really easy to relate to the families that will be displaced or without power or hot food this Thanksgiving."
Midshipman Second Class Nathanial Vallancey—"I felt that it was our responsibility as midshipman and our duty as fellow citizens to offer help in whatever way we could. What better way to give thanks than volunteering our time to help those stricken by the hurricane?"
Midshipman First Class Erin McKenna—"I’ve been taught, 'To whom much is given, much is expected.' My family was fortunate enough to go unharmed in Hurricane Sandy, but many families' lives changed and their possessions washed away. It was important to me to have a different kind of Thanksgiving where I would be able to give back and to be truly thankful for what I’ve been blessed with throughout my life."
Midshipman Second Class Philip Solt—"When I first heard of the opportunity to go and help out with the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do over my Thanksgiving break. Granted, if I did this, I wouldn’t be spending this time with my family back home, but that didn’t seem to bother me too much. I could not stop thinking about all the people who were still struggling in getting the basic essentials—food, water, and shelter. I have such a passion for serving others in need and I could not think of a better way to show others that they are not alone in their suffering and how many people are willing to help them out."