There is a bond that exists between the Steelers and the United Way, one that is evident on a regular basis as the two continuously team up to help those in the Pittsburgh community who need it most.
It's a bond that began back in the days of Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr. and continues today with his grandson, Steelers President Art Rooney II.
The latest aspect of that bond is a second donation to a group of United Way agencies through the Steelers' Social Justice Grant program. The team and players combined to donate a total of $26,500, which will be distributed to three different agencies, the Jewish Community Center, Action Housing-My Place and Northside Coalition for Fair Housing.
"It's really important that it's not just a top down relationship. The players have identified local organizations that we have traditionally worked with and they are supporting the programs that are critical to providing better lives for children and families in our community," said Bobbi Watt Geer, President and CEO of the United Way of Southwestern Pa. "It's incredibly important everyone is involved. They have supported organizations where they make sure kids and families have the basic necessities, but also making sure the children are being exposed to career possibilities and life skills to live better lives. That is an incredibly important partnership Steelers players help support.
"The things that are being supported help us build a stronger and more equitable community."
The program is one that is led by the players themselves in conjunction with the team and is an effort to engage with various factions, including law enforcement, charitable organizations, military and more to strengthen the community at large.
"It's very important to give back," said Dan McCullers, who donated to Action Housing-My Place. "This was an organization I felt good about helping. You want to help them as much as you can and hopefully this will help them as much as possible.
"Reaching out to different organizations is always good. People are in different situations, tough situations. Whatever the Steelers team up and do, it's always good. It's important to help the community any way we can, give back and help people by putting a smile on their faces and assist them when they need help."
This is the second donation this month through the Steelers' Social Justice Grant program to United Way agencies, and the importance of them has a deep meaning for all who benefit.
"The NFL and the United Way has enjoyed a partnership for decades," said Geer. "As a Pittsburgher born and bred, I understand and appreciate the depth of the relationship between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the United Way of Southwestern Pa. It is unique and goes beyond what we see in some other NFL cities. Part of that has always been the deep involvement of the Rooney family and the leadership role they have played on our Board of Directors.
"It goes beyond that as well because we have had deep engagement from a variety of players and the organization overall. It's been not just through the Social Justice Program, which is a relatively new aspect of our partnership, but the Steelers have for many, many years helped us with campaigns, done special kickoffs and raffles with us, and players have done volunteer events for us. It's broad and deep."