University students use day off to serve others

Jan. 21, 2013 @ 06:04 PM

Instead of sleeping in and enjoying a day free of classes, 70 students from Wingate University spread out around Union County to perform various service projects. 

Students went to two different YWCA clubs. One group cleaned up the playground and the other led children in a fitness event. Both groups played with the children. Some students went to Turning Point to clean, arrange and paint. A different group went to Hartis Grove Baptist Church in Indian Trail to help weed flower beds. 

The brothers of Delta Sigma Phi went to Carolina Equine Rescue and Assistance farm in Wingate. 

The students mucked stalls, cleaned pasture troughs, raked leaves, cleaned the chicken hutches, weeded the farm's vegetable garden and other tasks around the nonprofit farm. 

"I always look forward to these kids coming," President Darlene Kindle said. 

Wingate has been sending students to the farm for a few years. 

Without the help of the students, Kindle said it would take her months to accomplish what they did in one morning.

Senior Tyler Benfield has been volunteering on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for the past three years. It is his second time at CERA Farms.

"We really enjoyed it," Benfield said. "It feels great. (I have a) good, rewarding feeling."

Benfield enjoyed feeling like they were giving back to the community.

Freshman Tay Glenn said he did not mind waking up early on a holiday.

"It's something fun to do," Glenn said. "This is a brand new experience for me."

Glenn, who grew up in Monroe, had ridden horses before, but had never cleaned a chicken coop.

He plans to attend next year. He said he found the experience to be "meaningful."

Emma Wallace, assistant director of involvement for Wingate University, was pleased with the turnout. There were 30 more students this year than last. 

The office often struggles with finding places for the students to volunteer. Many businesses are not open on the holiday, Wallace explained.

This year, 85 students signed up and 70 came that morning. Others forgot or overslept, she explained. 

"The ones who got up this morning were happy to do it," Wallace said.