ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Twenty-four U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen volunteered on Thanksgiving to help with Hurricane Sandy relief in New Jersey as part of a Midshipmen Action Group project.
Accompanied by Lt. Cmdr. John Woods, an Academy oceanography instructor, the midshipmen worked with the American Red Cross to transfer relief products between regional aide stations.
The midshipmen helped remove debris from area residences damaged by the storm and load trucks with cleaning supplies for delivery to areas on the shore. The Midshipmen Action Group volunteers more than 20,000 hours a year to local and national community service efforts.
The trip hits close to home for Woods, who is originally from Lavallette, N.J., a beach town that has seen a lot of devastation from Hurricane Sandy.
"I am hoping to make a small step towards progress to getting our beach town back," said Woods. "The motivation from the group of midshipmen who gave up their leave over Thanksgiving to come out and help complete strangers, just because they wanted to, is overwhelming."
The midshipmen acknowledged that giving up their Thanksgiving holiday was a sacrifice but an easy one to make under the circumstances.
"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," said Midshipman 2nd Class Philip Solt. "I could not stop thinking about all the people who were still struggling in getting the basic essentials - food, water, and shelter."
"Most people spend Thanksgiving with family and friends. A lot of them take where they are, what they have and who they're with for granted," said Midshipman 2nd Class David Cooper. "Helping those who are less fortunate, or in a time of distress, particularly illustrates the meaning and importance of this holiday."
For Midshipman 1st Class Mark Bradley, also from New Jersey, the most rewarding part of the volunteer effort was being able to lead the group of midshipmen to bring relief to the people of his home state.
"This is my home, and although my family is okay, other families in the area are not," said Bradley. "We assisted an elderly couple with moving large pieces of boardwalk off their property. Until we showed up, they had no idea how the material was going to be moved."
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