The UNCG Athletics Department held its first-ever “Big Help Day” on Wednesday as every staff member and coach took time out of their schedules to give back to the Greensboro community. The Spartans volunteered at nine organizations across the region, adding to the more than 1,000 cumulative volunteer hours donated by UNCG student-athletes during the 2013-14 season.

“The Big Help Day is a great chance for our coaches and staff to give back to the Greensboro community,” Director of Athletics Kim Record said. “One of our core values in the department is community engagement, and there isn’t a better way to support community initiatives than to actually give our time. Greensboro supports our student-athletes, coaches and staff on a daily basis throughout the year so it is important that we find ways to show our appreciation.”

Volunteers assisted with landscaping and gardening projects at the Servant Center, which serves the needs of the most vulnerable people, particularly veterans.

“We had a great time and a great project to work for in The Servant Center today,” head baseball coach Link Jarrett said. “A lot of the people that are involved in The Servant Center served our country as military members, and anything we can do to make it more enjoyable and more comfortable for them here is great. People who have served our country deserve the best that we can provide them with and anything we do out here today is just a way to serve them and show our appreciation for their service.”

UNCG also sent volunteers to the Out of the Garden Project, which provides healthy food to more than 900 families with children in Greensboro. The Spartans filled bags of non-perishable grocery items in preparation for distribution to the families this week. Don Milholin, director of the project, began the effort in 2009 and was grateful for the  volunteers.

“We are totally dependent on volunteers at the Out of the Garden Project,” Milholin said. “Having UNCG Athletics come out and donate their time is a great help for our organization. We … are the largest charity that provides food to children in the Triad.”

Other Spartans got out in front of the forecasted rain at a couple of outdoor community service projects. UNCG donated time at Kopper Top, which provides therapy services in a non-clinical environment at a 33-acre farm in southeast Guilford County, and worked on various landscaping projects at YMCA Camp Weaver.

“The Big Help Day is a great thing for us to do and it is a great chance to give back to those who support us all year,” head men’s basketball coach Wes Miller said. “Today I was out at Camp Weaver, which is a special place to me because it gives back to the kids in our community. If we can come out and give a small token of our appreciation by providing service, that is a really positive thing and is good for the soul.”

The Spartans also helped with painting projects at Glenwood Recreation Center and worked with the American Red Cross, students at Brooks Global Studies School and at the Cultural Arts Center in downtown Greensboro. To see a photo gallery of today’s work, visit here.

Story by Matthew McCollester, UNCG Athletics

Photography by David Wilson, University Relations