Sharing during the holiday season


By Teresa Varley  Linebacker LaMarr Woodley, quarterback Dennis Dixon and defensive end Ziggy Hood teamed with FedEx Ground to host a Christmas toy drive benefitting Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh at the Mall at Robinson.

"We are so appreciative of the players taking the time to come and the fans who stand in line all day to give toys to the hospital," said Mandy Ranalli, associate director of annual fund programming, Children's Hospital Pittsburgh Foundation. "It all means so much to our kids and institution. There are many kids who are going to spend Christmas inside the walls of the hospital. These toys really brighten their days and mean so much."

The three players signed autographs for fans who made toy donations, with those toys being given to the hospital's Child Life Department, which provides support and assistance to children and their families who are adjusting to illness or hospitalization.
"I think it's real important to do this," said Woodley. "People come out and donate toys. It's great to help those who aren't as fortunate. These kids spend days in the hospital and it's good they get gifts. They might not be able to be home with their family so we want to bring some joy and happiness."

The line snaked around the upper level of the mall with those first in line arriving almost 12 hours before the event started and even before the mall opened.

"Steelers fans are amazing," said Rebecca Otto, director of public relations and events for Octagon Football, who represents the three players. "They always come out and it's amazing. The guys really enjoy the event because they can give back to the community and it's helping kids they know need the toys and need uplifting during Christmas time."

Bags of toys were loaded into a special FedEx community truck to be delivered to the hospital in plenty of time to make Christmas special.
"It's always good to do things like this," said Dixon, who listed G.I. Joe as one of his favorite toys when he was younger. "I was once a little kid. A toy goes a long way in a child's life. They can play with it for the entire year. I am happy to be able to do it. I love putting a smile on people's faces. It' the time of year for giving and I am happy to do that."

For Hood it was the first time involved with the toy drive and he was impressed with the turnout of fans and enjoyed being about to do his part.

"It brings a warm feeling to your heart when you know kids who are less fortunate are getting some toys," said Hood. "We like to go out there and participate in these things. We care a lot for the children."

To view a full photo gallery by Teresa Varley, click on **Toy Drive** and go to Off the Field.  

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