ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- With the lighting of the Naval Academy's 22nd annual Giving Tree Nov. 27, the midshipmen of 6th Company brighten more than just the Bancroft Hall rotunda.
Hundreds of local children in need will receive unexpected gifts this year thanks to the Giving Tree campaign.
The midshipmen, aided by members of the academy's Class of 2000, decorated the tree with more than 900 paper angels provided by the Salvation Army. Each angel bears the name and gender of a local child and a suggested gift for each. Naval Academy midshipmen, faculty and staff choose an ornament, purchase a gift for the child represented on the ornament and leave it unwrapped under the tree.
Suggested presents range from dolls, action figures and soccer balls to bicycles and electronics. The paper ornaments also include each child's pants, shirt and shoe size.
The drive ends Dec. 10, when representatives from the Salvation Army will collect the gifts, wrap them, and deliver them to the intended children in time for Christmas. Last year the Naval Academy donated an estimated $25,000 in holiday gifts.
"This community is always giving to the Brigade of Midshipman. This is one way that we can give back, and it's a way that impacts everyone," said Midshipman 1st Class Ricky Rodriguez, a 6th Company midshipmen who volunteered to coordinate this year's tree lighting ceremony.
"I wanted to be a part of making a difference in the community and making children happy on Christmas morning," he said.
In giving back to the community, Rodriguez says he and his fellow midshipmen also receive a lot in return.
"It has a great impact on the brigade as well as the community," he said. "We're shining a light to help make a difference for these children."