Back to school in style

It's that time of year again, when summer vacation comes to an end and back to school supplies occupy the shelves of stores across the country.

For some families, though, paying for those supplies can be a challenge.

That is why the Steelers joined forces with other organizations to help with the 10th Annual Pittsburgh Public Schools Back to School Event at Acrisure Stadium.

To give the kids a fresh start for school, the Steelers provided haircuts and manicures, giving everyone a self-esteem boost. The team also provided books for the kids, and The Heyward House provided hygiene kits. The team also helped connect the students with much needed resources that will benefit them throughout their educational endeavors.

"It's important to emphasize that the Pittsburgh Steelers have come out in ways that we would have never imagined," said Merecedes Williams, Media Manager for Pittsburgh Public Schools. "When you open up your facility, Acrisure Stadium and the FedEx Great Hall, it's more than just executing, it's the Pittsburgh Steelers saying we appreciate Pittsburgh Public Schools and their families. What we are hearing from the students is seeing the space and what it means. They have never been to a professional game. When they see it, it ignites them for their own success. I saw kids walking around with their nose up to the displays seeing all of the great things. They learned about people who are where they are and going on to do great things.

"It's little kids, young learners, young minds, who are able to prepare for the first day of school. The Steelers prepared a healthy environment and space for literacy and achievement and showed that the community loves them. The Steelers made a commitment and investment to our families that will last a long time."

Over 4,600 stuffed backpacks were also distributed, something that goes a long way during some challenging economic times.

"We are looking at it everywhere we go," said Williams. "When we go to the gas pump, when we go to the grocery store. We are seeing it now more than ever. It's important for our families to be ready for school. If we can take some of that stuff off of their lap, or remove the burdens, that is what we want to do. That was the goal for today."

The giving back continued later in the day, when linebacker Alex Highsmith went to Clairton Elementary School to hand out backpacks and school supplies provided through the Alex Highsmith Family Foundation.

"It's awesome just to be able to give back," said Highsmith. "I have been blessed with what I have for a reason, it's to give blessings to others. To be able to give back to the community in this way, to give back to kids in this way, kids who needs this, it's a special opportunity."

This is the second year Highsmith has done the back-to-school giveaway and seeing the kids reaction makes it truly special.

"It's cool because I know when I was in their shoes I reacted the same way," said Highsmith. "Just being able to be a blessing to them, that is my main goal off the field. To use my talents and ability to help others.

"I know it can be stressful for the parents. To be able to provide for some of the kids who don't have the things they need, that is what we are called to do."

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