Players spread holiday cheer

Instead of waiting in line to see Santa Claus, shoppers at the Mall at Robinson recently waited to see some of his elves…elves that normally wear black and gold.

Steelers LaMarr Woodley, Ziggy Hood, Dennis Dixon and Maurkice Pouncey showed their holiday spirit hosting a toy drive that benefitted Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

"It means everything to the hospital, to have the Steelers take time out of their night to come out for a great cause," said Bree Mueller, Development Coordinator for Annual Giving for the hospital. "It means that the community is coming together and helping out the kids and that's the most important goal for us."

Steelers fans, young and old, lined almost the entire length of the mall to donate toys in exchange for autographs from the players.

"The most important thing is getting the people out here to donate a toy because they're the ones who really drive this event," said Woodley. "Some of these people have been in line for hours to come here and donate a toy and get an autograph. To make all this possible you need the people out here to participate in it."

The most important aspect of the toy drive is the happiness it will bring kids on Christmas morning. The toys will be given to the Child Life Department, which provides emotional and social support for children and families adjusting to hospitalization.

"There will probably be about 250 kids that will have to wait for Santa at Children's Hospital," said Mueller. "So the fact that people that don't even know them bring toys to help brighten the holidays for them makes it very special, not only them but for their families, their brothers and sisters and everyone as well."

The players want to help make the holiday special as well.

"It's very important. Whenever we go out here and do good deeds like this it's really never enough," said Hood. "But if we have the opportunity to provide these kids with toys, that's always a good feeling for us."

With the help of FedEx Ground, the toys will be delivered to the hospital in plenty of time for Christmas morning.

"I just love to do it. I think it's an opportunity to give others something on holidays," said Woodley. "I think everybody should be able to enjoy Christmas, definitely kids."

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