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Making sure kids stay warm this winter

A warm fall day is always welcomed in Pittsburgh, but everyone knows what is just around the corner. And as much as everyone hates to think about the cold and snowy days, you have to be ready for them, especially kids.

That's why Steelers' players turned out in large numbers on Tuesday night to make sure kids from the Salvation Army in Homewood-Brushton are prepared when winter sets in.

The players took the kids shopping for winter outerwear at Macy's at Ross Park Mall as a part of the Salvation Army's Project Bundle-Up, a program started by Patricia Rooney, wife of Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, and Joe DeNardo, retired WTAE-TV weatherman, 29 years ago.

"Tonight means the children don't have to wonder if they are going to be warm over the winter months," said Lt. Jonathan Lewis of the Homewood-Brushton Salvation Army. "Many of the children come from disenfranchised families that don't have a lot of money. They might have to make the choice between food and a coat. We are making the choice for them, as they will now have a coat and can keep warm in the winter months.   

"And for them to shop with the Steelers, the expression on their face is great. They went bananas when we told them they were shopping with the Steelers. To be one-on-one, not just see them on television, but to talk to them and learn about them is an inspiration to the children."

As the players and children paired-up for the shopping adventure, you could quickly see a bond being formed. There were hugs, holding hands, and a genuine bond being formed.

"It doesn't take much for us to come out here and hang out with these kids and share something special with them," said receiver Lance Moore, who easily conquered the challenge of shopping with two young girls. "It makes you think of how blessed we really are to be able to do what we do. Sometimes you lose sight of people going through things, so it's good to come out and do this."

Steelers Players team up with the Salvation Army and shop for winter clothes with children.

Fullback Will Johnson and his wife Jessica were paired with four kids, and loved every minute of finding a winter coat, hat and gloves for each one of them.

"I love seeing the smile on the kid's faces," said Johnson. "It gives them a chance to actually meet us and shop for warm stuff. Kids should be warm in the winter time."

For safety Shamarko Thomas, the shopping adventure hit close to home as he remembers as a kid being in a similar situation.

"It's amazing to be able to give back," said Thomas. "It's great to support this event. I was one of those kids. My mom had to make the choice to get us food or get us jackets through the Salvation Army. It's an honor to help out these kids. It was tough to see my parent's struggle, but it builds character and made me the man I am today.

"God is amazing. I knew one day I was going to be able to do this and I am blessed to be here."

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