KINGS POINT, N.Y., December 17, 2013 – Midshipmen at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) took time from packing their sea bags and preparing to go home for the holidays, to participate in service projects throughout the New York area.
“The Academy motto is Acta non Verba – Deeds not Words,” said Superintendent, Rear Admiral James A. Helis. “When Kings Pointers see a need, they act, whether it is in service of our nation or serving our neighbors. I am very proud of their service and dedication to others.”
On Thanksgiving Day, First Class (1/c) Midshipmen (MIDN) Andrew Baransky and Nick Nalette, Co-Presidents of the Newman Club, the Catholic Student Club at USMMA, served food at the Bowery Mission, a homeless shelter in New York City. Midshipmen Nalette and Baransky added to the success of one of New York city’s biggest food distribution event by assisting in serving meals to 5,000 men, women and children. “Giving our time to those much less fortunate on Thanksgiving Day was one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever felt,” said Baransky.
The Newman Club teams up regularly with the USMMA Christian Fellowship Club. Together they make monthly visits to Ozanam Hall Nursing Home in Bayside, NY. This joint project which is spearheaded by Chaplain Joseph Koch brings joy to elderly residents all year long but is especially appreciated this time of year.
On December 8th, MIDN Daniel Collins, 1/c, President of the USMMA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Club, and 20 other midshipmen took part in the Polar Bear Plunge, at South Beach, Staten Island where they dove into the freezing Atlantic Ocean to raise funds for Special Olympics New York. “Every year we work with the Special Olympics NY and try to make appearances at their events in the tri-state area,” said Collins. “At this event we raised about $ 600.00 and all donations go directly to supporting the special needs children who participate in Special Olympic events in the northeast region.
Joining Collins in the Staten Island Polar Plunge were: MIDN Branden Yeik, Second Class (2/c), MIDN Paul Styx, 2/c, MIDN Thomas Herrlich, 2/c, MIDN Patrick Brow, 2/c, MIDN Thomas Healy, 2/c, MIDN Frank Sysko, 2/c, MIDN Preston Banker, 2/c, MIDN Matthew Pastuszak, 2/c, MIDN Max Jaissle, 2/c, MIDN Martin Craig, Third Class (3/c), MIDN John Young, 3/c, MIDN Joseph Gordon, Plebe Evan Purdy, Plebe David Ossing, David; Plebe Brian Sayrafe, Plebe Matthew Amoscato, Plebe Alejandro Mata, Plebe Kristopher Meyer, Plebe Brian Gallagher, Plebe Oliver Weber.
On December 14th another group of midshipmen participated in the Polar Bear plunge at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle, NY to also raise funds for the Special Olympics New York. Despite an ice storm and sub-freezing temperatures MIDN Nick Grippo, 1/c , Midshipam Kevin Berto, 1/c, MIDN George Bueal, 2/c, MIDN Victor Ottoboni, 2/c, Plebe Saxon Londagin, and Plebe Danielle Garcia plunged into Long Island Sound.
While fellow midshipmen were braving the icy waters, Midshipmen Nalette and Baransky laid wreaths at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York at the grave sites of fallen heroes who dedicated their lives to securing freedom for our country. These midshipmen volunteered with "Wreaths Across America" an annual event that honors fallen vets at National Cemeteries all across the United States.
Finally, on Monday December 16th MIDN Ryan Raffo, President of the Class of 2014, and MIDN Nick Nalette, Vice President, delivered over 50 toys, collected by their class, to the US Marine Corps in Garden City, New York. The Class of 2014 generously collected and donated toys that will be distributed to needy children in Nassau County. Raffo thanked his classmates by saying, “We donated over 50 toys that will go to families that are struggling to make ends meet at home. Thanks to your generosity many families will enjoy the holidays. Great job!” MIDN Baranksy, added, “In the holiday season, we realize it is easy to become caught up in things that are not really important. We must keep in mind what is really important and that is spending time with those you care most about, namely your family and friends. Also important, is giving to those you can, when you can.”