A time for giving back

December 4, 2012 by Teresa Varley

2012_ShopwithaSteeler_Butler_1The holidays are a time for giving and sharing, and that is exactly what Steelers players were doing on Tuesday evening at “Shop with a Steeler” at American Eagle Outfitters in the South Side Works.

“This is fun, hanging out with the kids, seeing their style, helping them pick out clothes,” said Will Allen. “It’s good to give back and it’s fun to see their imagination and their idiosyncrasies. It’s fun talking to them and getting to know them. It’s important that they see the Steelers want to give back and help them and it’s important they know what it means to give back.”

American Eagle closed their doors for the evening so the players could take 20 kids from Big Brothers/Big Sisters shopping for some new clothes, each of them given a $200 gift certificate to do so.

“It’s so incredibly special for them, first of all the shopping experience here at American Eagle, and second the opportunity to be with the Steelers is an incredible experience for them,” said Jan Glick, CEO of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. “Christmas is always hard for a lot of our families so we try to provide them with opportunities at the holiday season. We didn’t tell them it was the Steelers, that was a surprise for them. They were thrilled.”

And in the true spirit of Christmas, the kids didn’t just shop for themselves as many bought gifts for family members.

“This was really fun,” said Cheyenne, 14, who was shopping with rookie Kelvin Beachum. “It was a great experience for me. I wasn’t expecting this and to be able to get a chance like this is great for me. I have never had anything like this happen. I bought a gift for my little brother and mother today, and I got them signed so for me to be able to give the gifts and the signatures too is great.”

Beachum and Allen were joined at the event by teammates Cortez Allen, Plaxico Burress, Drew Butler, Keenan Lewis, Ryan Mundy and Stevenson Sylvester, who all enjoyed spending quality time with the kids, laughing and joking, and sharing fun stories.

“For these kids it’s an awesome opportunity for them to get some clothes from American Eagle,” said Butler. “And the spirit of them to give back is special. They are getting things, but they are giving back. It’s really cool to see. Everyone is having a lot of fun.”

It took no time for the teens to fill up their shopping bags with sweaters, jeans, jackets and more.

“It’s always beautiful to do this type of thing,” said Burress. “Just to see the kids out here shopping and getting some things they like is fun and brings a lot of energy to them. That is what it’s all about, taking the time out to reach back a little bit and give a helping hand to those who need it. It’s very important for all of us. I try to do everything I can to make people happy.”

Burress was shopping with all girls, and even though he has experience shopping for his wife Tiffany, shopping with teenagers is different.

“I am good with putting the outfits together,” said Burress. “I have an eye for what they like. My wife has broken me in, but this generation is totally different. They like all of the bright things. It’s fun. I am just enjoying myself.”

Big Brothers/Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with long-term relationships that can be life changing. And while this was just one evening with the players, it will have a lasting effect on the kids.

“It’s really special,” said Brittany, 17, who was shopping with Lewis. “When they called and told me about it I was happy to go. It’s great. I have been in the program since third grade and to do something nice like this I really appreciate it. I don’t get that much, so I appreciate everything I get.”

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