It might have been a crisp, comfortable fall evening, but the soon arriving cold weather in Pittsburgh was definitely on the mind of Steelers’ players on Tuesday, as they took a group of 35 kids from the Tarentum Salvation Army from Allegheny Valley shopping for winter outwear.
The energetic group of youngsters was wide eyed as they were each paired with a player who was their personal shopper and best buddy for the night at Macy’s at Ross Park Mall as a part of the Salvation Army’s Project Bundle-Up.
“It’s great doing this,” said Brett Keisel, joined by his wife Sarah and their three kids. “I always bring the whole family so my kids can meet the kids we shop with and hang out with them.”
Keisel was helping seven-year Donovan select a winter coat, as well as gloves and a hat, and of course a Steelers t-shirt.
“You get to get them gear to keep them warm for these cold Pittsburgh winters,” said Keisel. “It’s a lot of fun. The weather is changing. The leaves are getting ready to drop and we know Pittsburgh can get frosty in the winter. To know these kids will be safe and warm in their hot new gear is great. They can go to school nice and toasty.”
While Keisel was shopping for a boy, some others had a more challenging experience, picking out girl’s clothes. Ziggy Hood, who has two sons, was happy to have his wife Sarah give some fashion advice to young Cassidy, who seemed happy with what she got.
“She loves pink and we got it for her,” said Hood. “My wife was with me so she was really able to help. She knows what girls like. I know what the boys like.
“But it’s just great to come out here and put a smile on their face. It’s a big thing for them to have these jackets. I am from Texas, but here in Pittsburgh you need to have the jacket, hat and gloves to protect yourself out there.”
The children that take part in the shopping night are selected based on their need, and being able to get a much-needed winter coat with the assistance of a Steelers’ player is icing on the cake for them.
“Number one it’s a great chance for the young people to see the Steelers, which is always great,” Major Mark Mackneer, Allegheny County Coordinator for the Salvation Army. “It’s also great to see the way the Steelers always reach out to the community and help those less fortunate in the area.
“It’s surreal for the kids to have this happen. They can’t believe it when they meet the football players, the people they see on Sunday on television are here caring and shopping with them. It’s amazing they do that and we appreciate everything the Steelers organization does.”
Among the 31 players taking part in the shopping, signing autographs and posing for pictures were many of the team’s rookies, including Chris Rainey and Sean Spence who teamed up to take two young girls shopping.
“I have done stuff like this since high school,” said Rainey about being involved in the community. “I love giving back. This is the first time we ever did this, taking kids shopping. We got a lot of colorful, warm stuff.
“I am from Florida so I don’t know how cold it’s going to be, but I wanted to make sure they were ready.”
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