On March 30, Wingate students will break away from the books to dive into dozens of service projects, three of which are brought to the University’s annual One Day, One Dog event by Bulldog alumni.
In addition to Wingate’s largest annual fundraiser (alumni, employees, students and friends can give to their favorite areas), One Day, One Dog shines a light on the University’s service.
“It’s a day where, inside the classroom, learning is paused so that we can move outside the classroom and be able to work with others in our community, partner with them, collaborate with them to deepen our learning and make positive, longstanding change,” says Dr. Catherine Wright, executive director of the Collaborative for the Common Good, which is coordinating the service portion of the day.
Alumna Willmarie Austin ’07 will put ODOD volunteers to work at a Habitat for Humanity Restore and on a building site. The volunteer and community-engagement coordinator for the nonprofit’s Cabarrus County chapter says Wingate’s focus on service influenced her career path.
“I participated in a lot of volunteer opportunities at Wingate, and that’s where my love for nonprofit began,” Austin says. “While at Wingate, I also joined Zeta Phi Beta sorority, in which I was able to do even more service and love on my community even more.”
She credits the late English professor Rachel Walker with pointing her toward nonprofit work. “She looked at me one day and said that as long as I worked for the good of people, I would be happy,” Austin says. “Even when I worked for corporations when I graduated college, I found my heart in nonprofit, and I have been in this field ever since.”
Austin couldn’t be more excited to host a group of One Day, One Dog volunteers at Habitat.
“I want to meet the new generation of Bulldogs,” she says. “I want them to see an actual living, breathing Bulldog in the nonprofit field, and I want them to feel the love!”
David Casper ’06 is equally thrilled to play a role in One Day, One Dog. He’ll bring clients from Union Diversified Industries in Monroe to the Wingate campus for a buddy-assisted baseball game. UDI works with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Any student who absolutely loves pure fun and joy should volunteer,” says Casper, UDI’s CEO. “Our ODOD project is a special-needs baseball game. What that looks like is the buddies play alongside someone with special needs. They are there to help them catch the ball, throw the ball, run, hit, those types of things.”
In addition to working directly with players on the field, volunteers will be in the stands cheering, helping in the dugouts, and serving ballpark food when the game is over.
“We definitely have opportunities for everyone,” Casper says. “So anyone who wants to have fun and make some long-term, long-lasting friends, this is the event for you.”
Bryan Kershner ’11, CEO of Southern Environmental Solutions of the Carolinas, has partnered with the University during past One Day, One Dog events and will once again provide a truck to accept electronic waste to keep it out of the landfill. Founded in 2012, SESC is based in the Anson County town of Peachland.
Other area organizations collaborating with the University on March 30 include the Community Shelter in Monroe, where volunteers will cook and serve breakfast and lunch; Heart for Monroe’s Closet, where they’ll sort and organize donated clothing; Common Heart food pantry; and Turning Point, which provides resources for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. (Check out these short videos to learn more about a few of the community partner projects.)
University personnel and students will serve at daycares and elementary schools and entertain seniors on campus with a number of activities. Some will read books on video for the Alliance for Children, while others will clean up around the campus lake or spend a few hours in Anson County, caring for animals alongside the ASPCA.
On One Day, One Dog last year, the University received more than 1,000 gifts and raised more than $300,000. This year’s gift goal is 1,110 gifts. Learn more on the University website at wingate.edu.