The relentless rain and cool fall afternoon were definitely a sign that winter is not far away in Pittsburgh. And for many area kids that can mean a harsh reality.
As hard as it is to imagine, there are kids in the community that could face the brutal temperatures and conditions that winter brings without warm outerwear.
That is why the Steelers once again teamed with Project Bundle-Up to take kids from the Homestead Salvation Army Corps shopping for winter outerwear at Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Waterfront.
“Having kids now myself, to be able to get these kids cool coats knowing that the weather is changing,” said Joe Haden. “Pittsburgh is very, very cold. They can go to school and if they have to go to the bus stop, they can be warm and that is a good thing. I know I wouldn’t want my kids going out there being cold. Jackets are something every kid needs, be able to do it for them, gloves, shoes and everything. These are essentials to every kid so everyone should have them. Thinking that somebody doesn’t, it really affects me and that is why I love giving back to these kids.”
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.
“Right now the children don’t understand it, because children don’t understand cold,” said Major Sandra Jackson, Divisional Leader for the Salvation Army. “I think of the parent, when they go home who is going to know their child is taken care of like that for the winter. It makes a difference for the family. When family is good, the community gets better.
“I think it’s important because it helps the Steelers understand giving back in the community is important because people look up to them. They are our guys. The relationship is important. It’s the men, the team coming in and re-enforcing a belief system they have as a team, taking care of each other.”
The Steelers teamed up with Salvation Army for the annual Project Bundle-Up
Players were paired with kids to go through the store, some of them handing the challenge of three or four kids on their own, as they tried everything on to find the perfect fit.
“It’s great to be able to reach out to the community and have an impact,” said T.J. Watt. “We don’t get to do stuff like this enough. To be able to do stuff like this with these kids is a blast.”
There was laughter, smiles, hugs and some really well put together looks. And even though Devlin Hodges joked he was going to get the kids he was shopping with some camouflage coats, they did walk out of the store with their favorite colors and were happy as can be.
“It’s great to be able to give them some winter gear,” said Hodges. “It’s great to be able to give back and be here with them and get them what they need.”
The day was one the kids will never forget, with one of them declaring it was 'the best day ever,' and the players felt the same way.
“I am having a good time,” said Roosevelt Nix. “This is a great thing. This is giving back. It’s a blessing to be able to do this.”