A day of shopping, smiles & warmth

On a crisp fall day, with the leaves just starting to turn into brilliant fall shades, it was hard to think about the weather that is to come.

But as we all know, winter will eventually hit Pittsburgh, and the beautiful fall days will turn into cold, windy and sometimes snowy ones in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers teamed up with the Salvation Army and Dick's Sporting Goods for the annual Project Bundle-up.

And with that comes the sad and harsh reality that there are children that could face those days without the winter outwear to protect and keep them warm.

But thanks to the Steelers and Project Bundle-Up, a group of kids from the Salvation Army in the Steel Valley, which encompasses the Homestead and Munhall areas, won't have to worry about that.

Steelers' players took the kids shopping for winter outerwear at Dick's Sporting Goods at Cranberry Crossroads as a part of the Salvation Army's Project Bundle-Up, a program started by Patricia Rooney, wife of Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, and Joe DeNardo, retired WTAE-TV weatherman, more than 30 years ago.

"The kids were so excited to shop with the Steelers," said Major Deb Sedlar, Salvation Army Divisional Commander for Western Pennsylvania. "We appreciate what the Steelers do to help get these to the kids. The need is met through the Steelers and Project Bundle-Up. These kids would be cold through the winter months. Could you imagine going to school, back and forth in the winter months, without the proper outwear. It's important we keep them warm and safe."

The kids enjoyed a fun lunch, games and treats, but the real treat came when they were surprised to learn the Steelers would be their personal shoppers, helping them find a jacket, hat, gloves and boots.

"It was great to be able to hang out with the kids and enjoy everything," said L.J. Fort. "It's cool to see the kid's faces light up, especially when they get something new. It makes you feel good to know you are helping them. You know they don't get new stuff all of the time and it's great to be able to experience that with them."

Rookie Tyler Matakevich shopped with 10-year old Sa'Riyah, a lively young shopper he bonded with who had no interest in taking off her coat, hat or boots, which by the way Matakevich did a pretty good job of picking out.

"It's awesome," said Matakevich. "The opportunity to help them out is just awesome. This is important stuff. This is stuff that they need. To see their smile when they are grabbing what they want is awesome."

Fellow rookie Artie Burns hasn't experienced a winter in Pittsburgh yet, so his shopping buddy had to give him a few lessons.

"Coming from Miami, I learned a few things about picking out what is needed for a winter jacket today," said Burns. "He taught me a few things. It's been a great experience. He told me he needed a thick coat to handle the cold weather and snow. It's already dropping a little bit so I can imagine what it's going to get like in the deep part of winter."

And that was, after all, the most important thing … making sure the kids had the proper gear for cold days ahead.

"To get the opportunity to do this for the kids is special," said safety Jordan Dangerfield. "It's great to give back. It's cold now, the temperature is dropping. I feel like it's about to go straight to winter so it's good to help them now."

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