By Jessica Clark
U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs
It’s the beginning of the semester at colleges across the country, and the U.S. Naval Academy’s Midshipman Action Group is poised to make a difference.
After contributing more than 24,500 hours of service to the local community and beyond last academic year, the plan for this year is simple: Do what we do, but better.
MAG president Midshipman 1st Class Megan Delage and her staff plan to take on new projects and expand on those that already have a solid foundation such as the local mentoring program Mids for Kids, the 9/11 Day of Service, the Harvest for the Hungry Food Drive, and Toys for Tots.
Delage started working with MAG almost immediately after her Plebe Summer ended in 2011. She volunteered with Mids for Kids from the beginning, eventually leading the program in her second-class year.
The role of midshipmen as mentors to local school children is especially important to Delage, whose parents worked long hours as foreign service officers when she was a child.
“Our time together was reading at night, helping me with my homework and on Saturdays,” said Delage. “All the other time, I had some person – a young adult – mentoring me, tutoring me, doing all of that. That’s why I did Mids for Kids.”
MAG manages more than 50 projects and 500 midshipman volunteers throughout the year, and the midshipmen are always ready and willing to take on other projects that crop up – digging Annapolis citizens out of a sudden snow storm or gathering en masse at Baltimore-Washington International Airport to cheer on World War II veterans visiting the capital region through the Honor Flight Program.
Among the new projects MAG will organize this year is the Sept. 18 Bone Marrow Drive, encouraging midshipmen to enter their DNA into the National Marrow Donor Registry as a potential match for someone in need of a life-saving transplant.
In November, MAG will work with the Travis Manion Foundation which pairs high school students with veterans to work together on community service projects.
MAG’s work in the community was officially recognized earlier this year when Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides declared May 19 Midshipmen Appreciation Day. The Maryland General Assembly also recognized the midshipmen’s contributions during a session in February.
Marine 2nd Lt. Kimberly Bernardy (USNA ’14) was recognized by the Hospice of the Chesapeake in April for leading the “Final Salute” program where USNA midshipmen travel to homes and hospice centers in Anne Arundel County to visit and assist veterans in hospice care and deliver to them their final salute.
The Final Salute initiative began during Bernardy’s freshman (plebe) year at USNA. Bernardy became a project leader at the hospice program her sophomore year and rapidly increased the program’s visibility and participation level, with more than 140 midshipmen volunteering.
MAG was established in 1992, and is supported by the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation. The organization aims to provide reliable, diligent, and enthusiastic volunteers while preparing midshipmen for future service.