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Making sure kids stay warm

On a cold Pittsburgh day with temperatures below freezing and snow flurries trickling through the air, the thought of anyone without warm outwear is unimaginable.

The reality, though, is there are people in the Pittsburgh area who without help could face the bitter temperatures and harsh conditions unprepared.

That is why the Steelers once again teamed with Project Bundle-Up to take kids from the Aliquippa Salvation Army Corps shopping for winter outwear at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Cranberry.

“It’s important to give back to the youth,” said Marcus Allen. “These are the kids of our generation. I remember when I was their age and to have a Steelers player come up to me and go shopping with me, it would have been incredible. I am trying to make their day.

“And it’s definitely cold here in Pittsburgh. You have to stay warm and bundled-up. We will make sure they stay warm.”

The Salvation Army’s Project Bundle-Up is a program started by Patricia Rooney, wife of late Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, and Joe DeNardo, the late WTAE-TV weatherman, more than 30 years ago. The Steelers have been participating in the shopping day for years, teaming up with the local kids to outfit them in a coat, scarf, hat, gloves and boots.

“Today is the perfect day. We have had the snow before, but now we have the cold with it,” said Major Sandra Jackson, Divisional Leader of the Salvation Army for Western Pennsylvania. “It’s a perfect day for this to happen.

“I don’t think those of us who have never been without a coat can understand it. And not that these children don’t have coats. But they may not have an adequate coat, that is important. And they get to shop for it on their own. Children don’t always know how to dress wisely. But if they have the right tools to do that, and they feel good about what they are putting on, they are more likely to zip the coat, put on the boots, and even put a hat on.”

After the kids enjoyed lunch compliments of Pizza Hut, they were paired with the players and both sides had no problems sharing their strong fashion opinions.

“It’s a lot of fun. I am enjoying it a lot,” said James Washington. “It’s a blessing we are able to do this. It means a lot. To give back to the community is special. I love to see them laugh and smile.”

One thing is certain…the laughter and smiles were plentiful.

“It’s great to make some new friends, pick up some nice winter clothing for kids who need it, and just have fun hanging out,” said Mason Rudolph. “Days like today it’s a necessity to have a nice big, warm coat, boots, hat. It’s important. This is great being out here with my teammates to make sure the kids get what they need.”

The Steelers rookie class took part in the shopping fun, a perfect way for them to spent what has become known as Giving Tuesday.

“It’s fun out here, trying to find all of the nice clothing everybody wants,” said Terrell Edmunds. “It’s important to come out here and do this.

“It’s about more than football. It's about giving back.”

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