Staff Writer: Ben Robertson
WINGATE, N.C. — Two hundred seventy-three athletes and coaches from Wingate University volunteered to support and serve communities surrounding the campus as part of the 28th annual United Way Day of Caring on Saturday, Aug. 30. Three hundred eleven total members of the Bulldog community took part in helping both individual people and non-profit organizations at over 70 different locations.
While COVID-19 concerns canceled the usual celebration in Irwin-Belk Stadium that kicks off the day, the Bulldogs still managed to make their presence felt with a wide variety of projects. The pandemic completely canceled the event last year.
One team that was excited to volunteer again was women’s basketball, who went to the Community Shelter of Union County and helped with deep cleaning inside and outside the building. They also prepared and served food to the people in the shelter.
While the women’s basketball team worked at the Community Shelter, the cross country and track and field teams traveled to the Union-Anson County Habitat for Humanity building to help with landscaping.
The tennis teams also performed similar tasks, helping out at Wingate Baptist Church Daycare with cleaning the rooms, desks, and toys.
Many of the athletes that participated in the United Way Day of Caring expressed how valuable and important the experience of helping others was to them. “It feels good to be able to help the people who need it most,” men’s lacrosse player John Natoli said about the day.
“Community service is something that Coach [Tim] Boyle always talks about, and it is a big part of what the Wingate lacrosse team is all about,” added Thomas Naslonski. “I think it helps build you as a person, and we are glad to help out where we can.”
The men’s lacrosse team took their volunteer work in a slightly different direction. Instead of going to a single non-profit organization for a project, they primarily broke up into small groups and rode to the homes of several different elderly residents in Monroe and Marshville.
One group helped a woman completely repaint her shed and house. Another group helped an elderly couple plant trees and flowers in their yard. Others completed various forms of yard work and landscaping.
They completed many tasks that would have been impossible for those people to do themselves. Many of these people are long-time supporters of Bulldog sports teams, and some even attended Wingate themselves.
The men’s lacrosse team also helped clean up the community garden by the Neu Building, something that has become a bit of a tradition for the team since the garden’s creation.
The United Way Day of Caring is a cherished tradition that returned this year, and the Bulldog family hopes it will continue for many years to come.