Shopping for something special

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While fall weather is still in the air, the harsh reality is that winter is not too far away as November nears. Cold temperatures, snow, wind. Everything Mother Nature has in her will eventually hit Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Steelers teamed up with the Salvation Army and Dick's Sporting Goods for the annual Project Bundle-Up event which provides warm clothing for local children.

Now imagine a child facing that without a warm coat, hat and gloves. Without everything they need to protect them from the bitter chill.

It's a sad reality, but ones kids from the Salvation Army on the North Side won't have to deal with thanks to the Steelers and Project Bundle-Up.

Steelers' players took the kids shopping for winter outerwear at Dick's Sporting Goods at Cranberry Crossroads as a part of the Salvation Army's Project Bundle-Up, a program started by Patricia Rooney, wife of Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, and Joe DeNardo, retired WTAE-TV weatherman, 30 years ago.

"On the giving end, the players give their time and warmth to all of the children," said Mrs. Rooney. "It's a wonderful way to give back. We are so fortunate in Pittsburgh. We have a wonderful bunch of fellas doing this."

The kids had no idea it was Steelers' players who would be taking them shopping, and the look on their face when players appeared in their jerseys was priceless.

"It means an awful lot," said Major Deborah Sedlar, regional commander of the Western Pa. area for the Salvation Army. "Having the Steelers here means the kids get excited about getting a new coat. It brings such livelihood to the process. It means a lot the Steelers are able to support the Salvation Army.

"The kids need new, proper clothing. Nice, new clothing makes them feel good about themselves. When kids get to have success in life, it means everything. That is an important component of what Salvation Army ministry does."  

Smiles were plentiful as the players and kids set off to find the perfect fit, perfect color, and just enjoyed spending the time together.

"It was great. I enjoyed it," said receiver Sammie Coates, who was paired with an eight-year old who was having a blast. "He had a smile the whole time and had a great time. The whole situation of coming out here and helping with the kids is special. Giving back is always fun for me. I get a real joy out of doing it. It's big for them to have coats and boots. It's amazing how much fun they had."

And while it was fun, and the kids were definitely bouncing off the walls with excitement, the most important thing is knowing these kids won't have to face winter without being properly bundled up.

"As a professional, this is why you do it, to interact with kids and show some goodness to people who really need it," said safety Mike Mitchell, paired with two young girls who knew what they wanted. "We are blessed. This is huge. As soon as I heard about the opportunity I wanted to do it. I do something like this back home, and I wanted to do this here.

"It's critical. People need this. It gets cold here, I understand that. It would be a shame for kids to not be warm in the winter. It would be a travesty. Anything I can do to help, I'm all for it."

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