The Steelers commitment to their community continued when the sixth donation through the Steelers Social Justice Grant program was announced on Wednesday.
The program, which is led by the players themselves, is an effort to engage with various factions, including law enforcement, charitable organizations, military and more to strengthen the community at large.
Steelers’ players are doing their part to make a difference, aiding organizations financially and by giving their time to local organizations.
The most recent donation was made to Meals on Wheels, with JuJu Smith-Schuster donating and the team also contributing, for a total of $20,000.
“JuJu is sending a message. Young kids look up to him,” said Kimberly Delp, Senior Director of Home & Community Services for Meals on Wheels. “He is sending a message to the next generation, be kind to your seniors, help your seniors, contribute to your seniors, and connect with your seniors. That is the message he is putting out there.
“You can’t put a price on JuJu’s involvement. The ability for us to deliver meals is paid through the Older Americans Act. That only covers the food. There are so many other services that we provide. We couldn’t function without the donations. JuJu bringing that awareness is immense. Everybody loves the Steelers. Everybody loves JuJu. This is going to help us tremendously.”
Smith-Schuster made the check presentation when he took part in a Tai Chi class with senior citizens who are a part of the Meals on Wheels active program at the Body and Soul Health and Wellness Center.
“I wanted to donate and focus on Meals On Wheels because of my grandmother,” said Smith-Shuster, who helped care for his grandmother before her recent passing. “I want to do things in the community, and I thought why not do something for the older citizens in the Pittsburgh community."
Smith-Schuster first got involved with Meals on Wheels in Pittsburgh as he was heading into his rookie season. He helped prepare and deliver meals to seniors, something he found to be very rewarding.
“It means a lot. It’s unbelievable,” said Smith-Schuster. “It’s a feeling you don’t get a lot of times, but when you get those people looking up to you, it means a lot.”
When he went to deliver meals for the first time, Smith-Schuster met Earl Russell. After spending some time with Russell, he learned that the batteries in his electric wheelchair no longer worked, and he couldn’t afford to pay for them. So Smith-Schuster paid for them.
“I didn’t know who he was at first, but it was awesome,” said Russell last fall of the encounter. “For him to do for me what he did, that was even more awesome. He volunteered to fix my wheelchair and make sure it was okay. I am so grateful. I am more than grateful. For him to do what he did, it was a blessing. He is remarkable. He is someone special. He is beyond spectacular. That is the best way I can put it. I really appreciate him from the bottom of my heart.”