Four-year-olds can be loud, rowdy and extremely high-energy, but they’re also tons of fun and highly engaging. That’s the plan for Wingate’s 4-year-old One Day, One Dog – the annual event that challenges Bulldogs everywhere to stop what they’re doing to give, serve and celebrate.
With classes canceled on Thursday, April 11, students, faculty and staff are asked to sign up for one of 20 or so service projects detailed on the University’s new Campus Connect platform, while alumni, donors and Bulldog supporters across the globe are urged to kick off the event with a contribution.
“One Day, One Dog is a great opportunity to engage the entire Wingate community – from the University’s most loyal supporters to first-time donors,” says Brittany Bumgarner, assistant director of advancement communications. “It is a great opportunity for the Wingate family to support the area of campus that means the most to them. This year, our goal is 1,500 gifts, and we will need the support of our entire Bulldog family to make it happen!”
The day of giving raised $166,000 last year, thanks to 1,320 donors. Both of those numbers were up substantially from the preceding year.
“Gifts of all sizes really do make a difference,” Bumgarner says. “Whether you are investing in scholarships, one of our athletic programs, W’International opportunities or another area of campus, you are playing a part in creating opportunities for current and future Bulldogs that will be the foundation for their futures.”
As much as she wants supporters to share their financial resources, she also hopes they’ll share the “why” behind their motivation to give.
“Wingate was such an important part of setting the foundation for many of our alumni – from finding their first mentor to traveling abroad for the first time to becoming young adults,” Bumgarner says. “And every alum’s story is unique. On One Day, One Dog, we encourage our alumni to share why Wingate is special to them and why they choose to give back. Sharing the ‘why’ inevitably creates a chain reaction, encouraging others to give back and share their ‘why’ as well.”
Similarly, Amanda Alling, a 2018 alum and Wingate’s One Day One Dog project manager, wants Bulldogs who are signing up for service opportunities to understand why their volunteering matters, both at Wingate and in the larger community.
“This year, we are wanting to be more intentional with the service,” she says. “We want students to know why they are doing it and give them better ways to connect with those who are benefiting.”
For example, rather than just assembling 75 tie-blankets for kids, volunteers who join that effort will know they’re making the fleece throws specifically for Reading Buddies – a literacy program that pairs older students with younger ones – at East and Union elementaries. Blanket-makers will personalize the project by writing encouraging notes for recipients.
“The students settle in with their blankets as they read with their buddies at school, and they are able to take the blankets home with them as a reminder to read on their own,” Alling says.
She says that projects were chosen based on an assessment of the biggest needs in Union County and that they can be loosely categorized as addressing hunger, homelessness, literacy, sustainability and health. Volunteers can choose among a variety of chores, from assembling snack packs, meals and care packages to knitting hats for newborns or working with the University’s community-garden or aquaponics projects.
While some efforts will mirror those of prior One Day, One Dog events, she said this year the objective was to take them a step further. The goal for the Red Cross Blood Drive has been upped to 50 units. And work at Campus Lake, typically a cleanup effort, will include the construction of a footbridge.
“When we looked at projects that were similar to those in the past, we asked how we could amplify it,” Alling says. “How can we do more, as an individual, as a club, as a University? How can we be more helpful? A lot of these opportunities are not just a one-off but things that students can continue to work with.”
To encourage ongoing service, this year’s sign-ups are being hosted on Campus Connect, a new web platform that enables volunteers to register and create a profile that will help match them with community needs and will track their service hours.
“When volunteers register their account, they will put in their size for their One Day, One Dog T-shirt,” Alling says. “Then it will give them reminders of when and where their shift to volunteer is. At any given time, but especially as students get close to graduating, they can print out a service resume that will show how many causes they worked with over their time here and how many hours they served. It’s a great tool.”
Volunteers are asked to register by April 3. On April 11, they’ll check in between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Stegall Lawn, with most service assignments running from 10 a.m. to noon. By 12:30 p.m., they will reconvene at Stegall to see a sampling of the results of their labors.
“We’ll get an update on giving, an update on service, and then it will be time to celebrate,” Alling says.