Next week will be an opportunity for families to gather together and be thankful for the blessing of a big meal with family and friends, while sharing stories and memories and spending time with the ones they love.
While it sounds like a scene from a Hallmark movie, there is the reality that exists in the world. And that reality is a harsh one.
This time of year, there are plenty of families that don’t have the means to put a Thanksgiving dinner on the table. They don’t have the luxuries many are blessed with, the luxury of enough food to eat, and that is why Maurkice Pouncey is stepping up once again.
As he has done for many years, Pouncey worked in conjunction with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to provide a complete Thanksgiving dinner for over 200 families in the Braddock area.
“We really appreciate Maurkice doing this every year. It does mean a lot to our families,” said Charlese Hayden McKinney, Network Development Director for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. “This is a time when we embrace one another as families and as a community. It’s not always easy for some of the families we serve. With Maurkice stepping in and helping to relieve the burden, it’s something we are all grateful for.
“The need is fairly high. We probably see over 30,000 families a month throughout our service area. That number doesn’t change, but different people coming to us is what is changing. But we always have folks coming to us needing some help.”
Pouncey, who was joined by his teammates, including the entire offensive line, Mason Rudolph and Steelers alumni Charlie Batch, said giving back is something that is important to him, especially at a time when the need is high.
“This is awesome. To be able to give back like this during the Thanksgiving time, it truly means something to me,” said Pouncey, who is waiting on his appeal for his suspension that resulted from the Steelers-Browns game on Thursday night. “You guys know I give back to the communities I play in and back home. There is great support from them like always.
Maurkice Pouncey teamed up with the Food Bank and Giant Eagle to Giveaway a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings
“Just giving back means so much to me. When I was growing up, I was not as fortunate as I am now. I think it’s important to give back to families who are in need at this time. It’s Thanksgiving, it’s for giving back and being thankful for things. I am just appreciative I am in this position to do these types of things.”
The smiles were plentiful, with heartful messages of thank you being shared countless times by the recipients.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Carl Smith Jr., who was beyond thankful to receive the food. “It makes you feel good inside. (Maurkice) is a beautiful person. May God bless him and keep him. It shows what a gracious, caring person he is giving back to the community. It helps tremendously.”
And black and gold was everywhere, with people coming in their Steelers gear to show their love for the players as much as the players showed love for them.
“We are coming on the holiday season now,” said Ramon Foster. “There are a lot of people that we don’t know are unfortunate. It’s always good to give back, especially in the city that gives us so much.”
The players didn’t shy from hard work. They handed out turkeys, boxes filled with all of the trimmings and bags full of apples.
“This is an awesome event that Pouncey puts on every year,” said Rudolph. “A lot of guys out here supporting him on the team. There are a lot of friendly Steelers fans here getting some good food. It’s great to see.”
Pouncey has reached out to different communities throughout the years, making sure he targets areas where the need is the strongest.
“It continues to show that folks care about this area,” said Gisele Fetterman, wife of Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who was the former Mayor of Braddock. “To have them here, I don’t know if they know how much this means to our community. Not only the food distribution, but to be present here and supporting our people.”
Pouncey and his teammates posed for selfies and pictures with kids, shared hugs with people and completely felt the love the holiday season brings with it.
“We care about this community as much as they care about us,” said B.J. Finney. “We want to take every opportunity we can to give back. When guys do stuff, we come in droves to give back and make sure the community knows we love them. I don’t know who is enjoying it more, me or them. To come out and put smiles on their faces, that is what makes me happy.”