United Apparel: Supporting Veterans Through Social Entrepreneurship

This story is featured in the Fall 2017 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU students combine business and philanthropy through United Apparel.


Above photo: (from left) John Gavin Rhodes, Logan Jones, Erin Haggerty and Darryl Remedio operate United Apparel. Purchases from the company benefit veterans in need.

Darryl Remedio and Erin Haggerty have discovered the kind of passion that gets them jumping out of bed in the morning. 

They devote long days to it, and late nights, too. They remind themselves to pause, rest, then resume tomorrow. 

And they always do.

Helping the men and women who’ve served their country — especially those who need it most — is their mission. Some veterans they’ve met are homeless. Some don’t have clothing, food or basic hygiene items.

Remedio and Haggerty don’t know why. But they know that’s where their organization, United Apparel, comes in.

“The military is strong in our families,” says Remedio, whose grandfathers served in both World Wars. “Our organization is here to support veterans, and High Point University is known for supporting veterans. We want to continue that nationwide.” 

These two student leaders and their peers have built local partnerships so they can see United Apparel’s direct impact, and they’ve attracted the attention of a United States senator. 

All while creating a business built around purpose. 

“We wake up every morning wanting to get back to work,” says Remedio, a junior and business major, “and I love everything about that.”

An Entrepreneurial Education

Haggerty is a business and nonprofit major who didn’t plan to become an entrepreneur in her first year of college. Instead, she focused on finding the right environment during her college search — the kind that would encourage her to dream big. 

“When I toured this campus, I knew this was where I wanted to be,” says the Elmira, New York, native. “This university provides so many resources for students, and I promised myself I would use every single one of them.” 

She has. Haggerty has joined HPU’s Professional Selling Club, the Entrepreneurship Club and served on the Freshman Leadership Team. Through those, she’s attended career fairs and workshops focused on elevator pitches, resume writing, email etiquette, professional handshakes and more. 

Both Haggerty and Remedio were involved in these waves of activity across campus, so they decided to combine forces.

“We had previously joined a student organization that wanted to help veterans,” Remedio says. “When the founder graduated, we took over and built 

United Apparel. Since then, we’ve been growing our staff, our designs, our website and our offerings.” 

The company works like this: Customers visit their website at www.unitedapparelusa.org to order products ranging from T-shirts, hats and hair ties. As part of their order, they also select an item they’d like to donate to a veteran from a rotating list. Items have ranged from socks, bed sheets and towels to bus passes and “blessing bags,” which are filled with essential items like soap and a toothbrush. 

The items are donated to the Servant Center, a Greensboro organization that serves veterans in need. And the impact of those items has been applauded. 

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis signed up to volunteer at a United Apparel service project that was organized as part of HPU’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Alongside Tillis, students packed dozens of blessing bags that were later delivered to veterans. 

“Seeing this really warms my heart, because if you’ve never met a homeless veteran, you have no idea how much that bag will make a difference,” Tillis told students at the event. 

“I’ve been involved with homeless veterans for nearly four years since I was (N.C.) speaker of the house — building homeless shelters for them, reaching out to them, finding a connection back into a health care provider. You’d be amazed at what a difference you can make if you show them you care about them.” 

That day made an impact on the United Apparel team members, too. 

“When I went home to Delaware and told everyone that we have these big events that senators attend, their response was, ‘Really?’” Remedio says. “HPU has taught me how to market myself and my organization better than anyone else could teach me.” 

Sustaining a Legacy

The students that lead United Apparel, including Remedio and Haggerty, will graduate in a few years. But they’ve built a model that’s sustainable so they can continue to serve veterans.

“What we’ve done at HPU has helped veterans while also giving students professional development opportunities and skills,” Haggerty says. “We’ve learned to build and market a company. We were just sophomores when we applied for nonprofit status and registered our organization with the secretary of state.” 

There are more than two dozen HPU students on their staff, each one learning to coordinate volunteers, design merchandise or build partnerships with other organizations. It’s reflective of the immersive learning environment on campus. Because Haggerty and Remedio took advantage of the resources HPU provides students, they were able to hire other students. Together, they’ve learned how to create positive change and operate a business. 

“We’ve received support from every corner of campus,” Haggerty says. 

They will launch careers in the corporate world when they graduate — HPU has prepared them for that. But they’ll also continue to build United Apparel and involve students on campus. It doubles the impact of their work — improving the lives of veterans and building future leaders to do the same. 

“We want to take United Apparel to the next level,” Remedio says. “We want people to know that simple purchases of shirts can change veterans’ lives. They fought for us, so we fight for them — that’s our motto. Why wouldn’t we?”  

 


 

View this story and more in the Fall 2017 edition of the HPU Magazine:

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