Home Lifestyle University spreads the love during One Day, One Dog

University spreads the love during One Day, One Dog

Wingate students work at the community garden in Monroe. Photos by Wingate University

Cleaning, packing, sorting, raking, planting – Wingate students and employees spent Thursday in service to others during One Day, One Dog, the University’s annual day of giving and service.

Volunteers spread out around campus and Union County to work on projects to better the community. Whether it was writing letters to veterans, preparing meals for the homeless or reading children’s books on camera to create a video library, there was a project for anyone who wanted to sign up.

And sign up they did. All told, close to 900 University volunteers worked on more than 40 projects. The University cleared the way for people to volunteer by canceling classes for the day.

The University also makes it easy to show appreciation and support for Wingate. Gifts large and small helped the University notch one of its biggest giving days ever. By late Thursday night, more than 1,600 gifts had come in, totaling more than $360,000.

The service portion of the day focused on community partners. On Thursday morning a good number of students made their way to Ron Christopher Stadium as teams from Union Diversified Industries, which employs adults with developmental disabilities, battled it out in a pair of baseball games. Student volunteers served as “baseball buddies,” helping the participants run, throw and catch.

“Having this game today means everything to our clients,” said David Casper, CEO of UDI and a Wingate alumnus. “They long to belong, and here they do. This is a day to showcase their abilities, a day when no one is talking about their disabilities, a day when everybody is a star.”

Ricky Clark, a senior from Jupiter, Fla., and a Wingate baseball player, traded in his usual spot in the outfield to become a designated “super fan” and cheer on UDI clients on one of four teams: the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Orange Crush, Mighty Mean Green and Big Blue Ballers.

“It’s been awesome being out here,” Clark said. “It gives us a broader perspective, cheering on people that don’t have it as good as we do. To give back like this to something that is bigger than us is really more than you can ask for.”

Wingate student athlete haily McLaughlin reads to students at Wingate Elemenatary.

Unionville residents Lane and Tim Keziah, who operate Keziah & Sons Plumbing and K.B. Properties, were among the spectators. The Keziahs recently spent time completing a job at UDI and got to know the clients while they were there.

“We love the UDI clients and staff, and we also love Wingate University,” Tim Keziah said. “We appreciate Wingate doing this.”


“It’s exciting being out here, and it’s nice to have a day off of class to do volunteering,” said Jacy Smith, a sophomore pre-nursing major who was working as a Lyceum host at the game. “Nursing is all about caring and giving back to others, and that’s the spirit of today, so I’m glad to be out here.”

Smith was wearing a One Day, One Dog shirt that was provided to students who donated to the annual campaign. She said this was her first year taking part in the event, which had been scaled back during the previous three years because of the pandemic.

“Last year, I heard mention of One Day, One Dog but I didn’t really know what it stood for,” Smith said. “It’s great this year to actually be able to get out and do something.”

Many of the service projects were undertaken off campus. In Marshville, volunteers worked a shift at the Common Heart food pantry, stocking shelves, packing boxes and organizing donations. In Monroe, students sorted and organized clothing donations at The Closet Ministry, prepared and served meals at the Community Shelter, and cleared rocks, planted potatoes and spread mulch at the Community Garden.

Sophomore Gavin Thomas, from nearby Waxhaw, said he felt good about working at the community garden to help provide food for Monroe residents, especially with inflation so high. “The price of groceries right now is insane,” he said. “I think it’s really helpful for us to plant potatoes. They’re really cheap and fill everyone up.”

Sofia Correa, a junior commuter student from Matthews, showed up early at the Community Garden and then had a busy day ahead of her, working on projects linked to her major, environmental biology. Besides helping with the potato planting, she was planning to help clean up the area around the Campus Lake around noon, set up for the Farmers Market in the afternoon, and then attend the end-of-day celebration at The Closet, because, she said, “fast fashion is something that’s contributing to the degradation of the planet.”

“I want to get involved at Wingate as much as I can,” she said, “and I think One Day, One Dog is a good way to do that.”

Members of the football team had planned to help build a Habitat for Humanity house in Cabarrus County, but recent rainy weather delayed the project, so alumna Willmarie Austin, volunteer and community engagement coordinator for Habitat, put the team to work in the Restore, the nonprofit’s donation-resale outlet.

Students at Wingate’s Hendersonville campus also took part in the day, working in a nearby community garden.

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