ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- The United States Naval Academy and the Salvation Army held the 26th annual Giving Tree lighting ceremony Nov. 29 in the rotunda of Bancroft Hall.
Each year, midshipmen from 6th Company decorate the tree with paper angel ornaments which contain the age, gender, and gift wish list of a child in need from the greater Annapolis area.
The midshipmen, as well as faculty and staff, are encouraged to take an angel from the tree and purchase a holiday gift for the child the ornament represents.
"I love seeing our Naval Academy family rally around a cause like this," said Midshipman 2nd Class Anna Paz, 6th Company. "Most of us have sponsor families that are community members here in the Annapolis community. We are fortunate to have the support we do; it's always great to give back any chance we can."
This year, USNA is expecting to provide gifts for approximately 500 children.
"This event, to me, represents one of the purest forms of giving," said Midshipman 1st Class Cabot Bisbee. "Those involved will likely never meet the child they sponsor, and the child won't ever know where the gifts came from."
Despite the fact they remain anonymous, people will spend hundreds of dollars just to ensure a stranger has a happy holiday.
"The Naval Academy 'adopts' the most kids that we have," said Lt. Laurie Ferraez, of the Annapolis Salvation Army. "A lot of the support the children get comes from the Naval Academy this time of year. These donations can really brighten a child's holiday."
Many of the wish lists include items like electronics, musical instruments, bicycles, winter clothes, and footwear.
The angels with the children's names and gift suggestions are provided by the Salvation Army. Each child is from a household where their parents or guardians do not have the extra income to provide holiday gifts.
"I know my fellow midshipmen have been working tirelessly on the physical, moral, and educational mission," said Paz. "Annapolis provides us with great support, and being able to give back perfectly wraps up the end of a hard semester."
The unwrapped donations will be placed under the Giving Tree by Dec. 13 when the Salvation Army will collect, wrap, and distribute the gifts to the children.
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