JuJu Smith-Schuster has never shied away from giving back to the Pittsburgh community from the time he was drafted by the Steelers in 2017.
Whether it was paying off layaways for families at Christmas, or providing gift cards to kids through the Boys & Girls Club, or making sure seniors received Thanksgiving dinner, his heart has always been in the right place when it comes to caring about others.
That giving heart is continuing now as Smith-Schuster is awarding a total of $75,000 in grants to 10 Pittsburgh based charities through the JuJu Foundation. He chose the organizations based on the work they do to improve the lives of Pittsburgh residents and lifting the spirits of those in need.
"On behalf of the JuJu Foundation, we recognize these 10 great Pittsburgh area non-profit organizations for the important work that they do," said Smith-Schuster. "We hope that their work continues to make a positive impact in our community."
The grant recipients include Animal Advocates, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Homeless Children's Education Fund, Jeremiah's Place, Holy Family Institute, Light of Life Rescue Mission, PA Women Work, Reading Is FUNdamental Pittsburgh, Unpack U, and UPMC Senior Services.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for assistance has grown for many of the organization, including the Food Bank as food insecurity has become a reality for so many.
"The Food Bank greatly appreciates this grant from the JuJu Foundation," said Lisa Scales, President and CEO of Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. "As so many of our neighbors continue to struggle to put food on the table and make tough choices between buying food and paying for other household essentials, this contribution will support our goal to stabilize lives in Southwestern Pennsylvania."
Another area everyone has seen impacted is schools, many which were forced to close at times because of the pandemic, causing them hardships.
"We are honored and grateful that Holy Family Institute was selected to receive this support from the JuJu Foundation," said Sister Linda Yankoski, President and CEO of Holy Family Institute. "Holy Family Institute provides help, healing, and hope to some of the most vulnerable youth, families, and students in the area through our multiple programs. Nazareth Prep is now the largest private high school with a majority Black student body in the Pittsburgh area. The pandemic forced us to transition to remote learning several times throughout the past year, which has been challenging for our students. The grant from the JuJu Foundation will help us provide much-needed summer school education."