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Bulldogs display a spirit of selflessness on One Day, One Dog

by Luanne Williams

Wingate University students, faculty and staff teamed up to serve the community during the annual One Day, One Dog day of service and giving.

It’s just One Day and we’re just One Dog – but many and varied are the volunteer efforts and financial gifts that are making Wingate University’s One Day, One Dog a success this year. By lunch time on Thursday, the annual event that focuses on giving and serving had attracted more than 575 gifts totaling more than $60,000. Equally important, 1,200 volunteers had completed 27 projects addressing hunger, homelessness, literacy, sustainability and health.

As volunteer efforts got underway at 10 a.m., junior biology major Tyra Davis was creating a grid in a soil-filled raised-bed garden and poring over a diagram showing which plants were to go where.

“I love gardening,” she said. “My grandma has a garden and my parents garden, so this was a natural pick for me. Plus, I also like to do something different every year.”

As a freshman she packed snack bags for needy children. Last year she spent the day bagging her share of thousands of pounds of potatoes, a project that was repeated on Thursday, the University’s fourth One Day, One Dog event.

Students make blankets during One Day, One Dog

Classes were canceled all day to enable students, faculty and staff to choose their own ways to give back to the community. A dozen or so waded into the campus lake to demolish and remove an aging dock while a nearby crew installed a footbridge over a low-lying area. Food and hygiene items were delivered to low-income and elderly residents in neighborhoods in Marshville, Monroe and Waxhaw, while knitters and crocheters made hats for newborns in the University’s Ethel K. Smith Library. And 90 or so volunteers spread out over the floor of Cuddy Arena making tie blankets for local schoolchildren and their reading buddies.

“I like the idea of kids sitting down to read and having a comfortable spot to read,” said Megan Hamrick, a senior exercise-science major from Shelby. “It’s a day to watch everyone come together. In our day-to-day lives at Wingate, everyone is doing their own thing and going to their own classes. On this day you see people come together with one goal. It's really rewarding and shows you how close-knit a family Wingate really is.”

Sophomore Amy Cenname of Wilmington said the blanket-making was a great chance to bond with her Chi Omega sorority sisters.

“It got talked about a lot, and a lot of sisters were doing it, so I got excited about doing something with a lot of sisters,” she said. “And it’s something I like doing. I craft a lot.”

Service and discovery

Spencer Campbell chose to spend his time at the lake, a place already very familiar to the senior biology major and football player from Whiteville.

“It’s one of my favorite places on campus,” he said. “It’s easy to come out here and relax and just enjoy what nature gives you. It’s one of the reasons I chose a remote, smaller school like this: to enjoy nature.”

Campbell also appreciates the fact that so many Bulldogs are quick to help out others.

Students help dismantle a dock during One Day, One Dog

“It’s a great day where I like to see all the community members come out and make the community a better place,” he said. “It’s really a rewarding feeling being able to give back.”

A lab assistant for an undergrad biology class, Campbell was helping with the bridge build, while Dr. Shem Unger, assistant professor of biology, spent his time with the dock-removal crew.

"This is a dock that was put in many years ago, I think by a Scout troop,” Unger said. “It’s become a safety concern. It’s been falling apart for a long time.”

Trash pickup around the lake was another project volunteers could choose.

“Each year we’ve taken trash out from around the lake area so we can beautify the area and make it a place where students can come and relax and unwind,” Unger said. “Wingate is unique in the fact that we have a lake where students can put their hammocks up, relax and study outdoors.”

Unger characterizes One Day, One Dog as an opportunity for both service and discovery.

“I think it instills upon them a great sense of fulfillment, just setting aside a few hours on one day to all come together to give back,” he said, “and even coming out here to do the lake cleanup to even know there is a lake out here.”

Community partnerships

Back at the new garden near the corner of East Wilson and Main streets, work continued with the help of trustee Bill Crowder, who used the scoop on his tractor to move soil from huge bins to tarps laid out next to 10 raised beds built by employees of the Town of Wingate. Students shoveled the dirt in and raked it smooth before planting peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes and more.

Students help make blankets for kids during One Day, One Dog

Perhaps as much as any of Thursday’s projects, the garden illustrates the University’s growing partnerships with community groups and the ongoing impact of One Day, One Dog. Started during the day of service in 2017 behind the University’s service center, the garden has a new, more-visible and easier-to-access location. It will still serve as a laboratory for students tracking pounds of produce that will be donated to local families. But organizers say it will also become more of a destination for those looking for educational recreation.

“We’ll have some of the beds reserved for any community members who don’t have a place to garden but want to come grow something and learn about gardening,” said Catherine Wright, assistant religion professor. “We have high raised beds for seniors and those with disabilities, and we have had a Master Gardener help with the design of the beds. Students from East Union Middle helped grow some seedlings for us, and we’ll have after-school groups of kids walk over from Wingate Elementary to work in the garden.”

Heart for Monroe, Wingate’s longtime partner in the garden, will continue to be heavily involved in the project, which is also meeting a need for the town.

“It’s what I would call a town-and-gown garden, a space that will be inviting for our citizens,” Wingate Town Manager Patrick Niland said. “We’re looking at it as an asset to the community.”

April 11, 2019