On a day designated as 'Giving Tuesday,' the Steelers organization did just that.
They gave back. In a big way. Players, front office personnel and management all joined together for one cause.
The Steelers teamed with Convoy of Hope to host Huddle for the Holidays, a unique one-of-a-kind outreach that provided necessities and the simple pleasures in life for 500 individuals, from kids to senior citizens.
Heinz Field was transformed from a football mecca into an oasis of love and caring, with every corner a place for individuals to benefit from the art of giving back.
Local organizations, including Amachi Pittsburgh, Latino Community Center, Urban League, Youth Places, YMCA, Jeremiah's Place and Urban Impact, just to name a few, invited those they serve to attend and enjoy of night of pampering and outreach.
There were the essentials like health & wellness screenings, haircuts, job services and even manicures, to needs like shoes, clothing and food, to the fun like family portraits, balloon making, arts & crafts and of course Santa's workshop where kids always get treated with new toys.
A hot meal was provided for all the guests and at the end of the night all families were provided with groceries to help them through what can often be tough times.
"We have so many volunteers here tonight. It's another example of how generous the people of Pittsburgh are," said Steelers President Art Rooney II. "It's exciting to see everybody come out to help out the community. I want to take my hat off to Vance McDonald who was the impetus to get this started and partnering with Convoy of Hope. It's a great night.
"It's that time of year when you have to bring the joy and help people that have a harder time enjoying this time of year. The more we can do to help people feel better about where they are in life, and being able to deal with everything that comes with the holidays. It's time to bring the joy."
The Steelers partnered with Convoy of Hope to give back to the Pittsburgh community
Convoy of Hope is a faith-based organization that's main passion is to feed the world through 'children's feeding initiatives, community outreach and disaster response.' The organization was founded in 1994 and has served more than 115 million people throughout the world.
Vance McDonald got involved with the organization when he was with the San Francisco 49ers. McDonald and teammates went to Haiti with the organization, helping those who were affected by the tragic earthquake there. McDonald was so moved he stayed involved with the organization, helping those in the communities where he lives and works, as well as doing outreach with them to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, as he is a Texas native. This year he wanted to bring the outreach to those in the Pittsburgh community.
"It's something I have looked forward to," said McDonald. "My wife and I have spent time in Pittsburgh, and it's become home, so you want it even more for the community and the city. Its so neat for the people to see Heinz Field, to walk around on the field. The way people love the Steelers, it makes it even more special. I am hoping we make a big impact here tonight. There is so much good that can happen.
"Convoy of Hope just lays it out to help other people. It's an honor to be a partner with them. I love the humility they bring to everything. Every person that walks through the door they call them 'guests of honor,' that is how they view them and that is how they want to send them off, to show them how much they mean to them and they are people that matter. Every person they are serving, number one it's 'I want to show you how much of a prized possession you are, not only to me, but in the eyes of God.'
"You are going to be putting smiles on kids faces. You are also going to be helping out moms. You are getting all of the goods and services and picking things that fit the holiday season and things that might be overlooked by some families because of the circumstances. You are serving all aspects of the family."
The event was part of the NFL's goal to have 100 Million Minutes of volunteerism and community activism this year as the league celebrates its 100th season, a goal they have already exceeded.
"It's a great way to engage the players, front office, ownership and coaches to come together to serve their community," said Kirk Noonan, Chief Innovation Officer, whose department works with sports teams to help serve communities. "The vision for this tonight, it comes from Vance. He has this vision to feed the hungry and help the poor and suffering, and that is what Convoy is all about. He and Kendi, his wife, are determined to help others through service and that is what they are doing.
"This is a chance to come together as a giant team and serve the community. When there is an overflow of giving and service, great things happen."