Football is family. The NFL is a family.
And when family needs help, everyone reaches out.
After Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area, people wanted to help. And that includes those in the Steelers family.
The Steelers donated $100,000 to the J.J. Watt Foundation, assisting the efforts of the Houston Texans defensive end. Watt, the older brother of Steelers rookie T.J. Watt, started an online campaign to help raise money for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. His initial goal was to raise $200,000. He has now raised over $29 million.
The Steelers and the NFL are also working with the American Red Cross, supporting their efforts to help those impacted by Harvey, as well as Hurricane Irma, which is approaching the Miami area. Anyone can make a donation to the NFL's Huddle for Hurricane Relief by texting the key word REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10. You can also visit www.redcross.org/nfl to help.
Like many others, Kiya Tomlin watched the images coming out of Houston, Texas and the surrounding areas and wanted to help.
She felt a need to do something, to help those devastated by the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
But she didn't know where to turn. What to do. How to help.
There are so many in need, and in need of so many things, she just didn't know where to start.
And then it hit her.
Tomlin, the wife of Coach Mike Tomlin, hit the fashion world by storm with her ready-to-wear Uptown Sweats line that she launched in 2014. And like any designer, any company, at the end of each fashion season there was inventory left over.
Tomlin had been debating what to do with those items, most recently contemplating having a sample sale.
That has all changed.
Tomlin is donating all her leftover inventory from each year to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and is keeping it all in the family…the football family that is.
Not knowing where to start, what organization to work through, she reached out to Colleen O'Brien, the wife of Texans Coach Bill O'Brien, and a game plan was formed.
"I didn't know anyone there, so I called Colleen to see if she knew anybody, or she could put me in touch with someone," said Tomlin. "I reached out to her and she was so excited. She had just received an email from a friend that a school down there in one of the communities was requesting clothing for the high school students and families. It was a perfect match."
Some of the students from Cristo Rey Jesuit Preparatory High School suffered a lot of damage due to the flooding from the storm. Like many others in the city, they had to escape with all they could carry in a backpack. The need is great there and all over the area, and Tomlin is doing her part.
"I asked Colleen if I sent it down would she be willing to help distribute them," said Tomlin. "She was on board. She wanted me to send it to her house.
"As the boxes started piling up I thought you might not want them coming there. I have three pallets at 400 pounds each, approximately 1,300 items. She was surprised by how much I had. She reached out to the school to see if the building was in condition to accept the donations and it was. She assembled all the coach's wives and they are going to distribute it once it arrives."
The clothing was picked up by a freight truck on Thursday, and is making its way to Houston to deliver not just much-needed clothing, but a much-needed pick-me-up for the students. There is a wide range of items, from shorts and t-shirts, to clothes that can also be used by family members for work.
"It was really cool to be able to tap into our football network and help," said Tomlin. "To be able to call her and her be so receptive and on it, and jump in like it was nothing, was special. I shouldn't be surprised.
"The attitudes are so amazing. I saw a video of a dad and young boy who got out of the house with nothing, but they have their lives and they were thankful. The little boy just had a backpack on, that is all he had, a backpack. And they are thankful. It's inspiring to see."
When you need help, you call upon your family. And when Steelers fans living in the Houston area saw that some of their own, as well as thousands of others, needed help, they put together a plan.
A group of fans who gather for Steelers games in Sugar Land, Texas, decided to gather for the purpose of helping those impacted by the storm. The group, known as Hwy Six-Burgh Steelers Nation, organized a Hurricane Harvey Drive and the outpouring of support was overwhelming.
Steelers fans in the Houston area helped those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
"People kept coming and we got so much stuff," said Beverly Daigle, a member of the fan club who helped organize the drive. "Everybody came in their jerseys and Steelers gear. We even had Texans and Cowboys fans come drop things off. We were proud to help as group. We are always a group, a family. People are still going to need help here. They are going to need help for a long time. We still want to do more to help as a group."
The group was able to gather six to seven trucks full of items, that were then sent to residents in Wharton, Texas,
"That is an area that almost felt forgotten after the storm," said Lucy Martinez, who also helped to organize the drive. "It felt good to help those who felt forgotten, to let them know that people are about them.
"Doing the drive, it was a great way we could help the city. We are all a family in this fan club, brought together by a love of the Steelers. And as a family we wanted to help others."