Labriola On

Steelers bring holiday spirit to area teens

The holidays are a time for giving and sharing, for helping those who might need a hand, for thinking of others first and for bringing smiles to those who need it most. That is exactly what Steelers players did on Monday at "Shop with a Steeler" at American Eagle Outfitters in the South Side Works.

"I just love giving back any way I can," said fullback Will Johnson, who participated along with his wife Jessica. "It's a joy to put a smile on the kid's faces and let them come out and have a shopping spree with a Steelers player. I know it means the world to them and I am excited to help out.

The Steelers team up with Circle C Youth & Family Services to take kids shopping at American Eagle.

"It's really unfortunate a lot of kids might not be as blessed as others. But to let them enjoy the shopping spree it's fun for them. You see them smile, how happy they are. It's a great event American Eagle and the Steelers are doing."

The store closed their doors for the evening, during a time when holiday shopping is at its peak, so the players could take 24 teens from Circle C Youth & Family Services shopping for some new clothes, each of them with a $200 gift card in hand to do so.

"I can not express my gratitude," said Kemberly Stevenson Director of Transition Services for Circle C. "My kids are so excited to have this experience and opportunity. A lot of the kids come from homes where they don't celebrate Christmas. They don't have the money to. A lot of times when they are with us this is their first time experiencing Christmas because we make a big deal of Christmas at Circle C."

The teens were let loose in the store, filling their arms with sweaters, shirts, jeans, many items they wouldn't be able to purchase without the aid of this special night.

"Just being able to interact with everyone here and make an impact on the community is special," said linebacker Arthur Moats, who had his daughter Kaylor helping out. "I brought my daughter along with me. It's good to get them involved in the community as well. She has to know we are in a great position, but in this position we are supposed to give back."

In the true spirit of Christmas, the teens didn't just shop for themselves as many bought gifts for family members. And Jai'nell James went one step further, getting her brother's youth football trophy signed by the players.

"This is my little brother's trophy," said James. "He played for the North Side Steelers when he was younger and I wanted to get it signed for him so it can be one of his Christmas presents. He loves the Steelers."

Johnson and Moats were joined by teammates Michael Palmer, Robert Golden, Ike Taylor, Shamarko Thomas, and Brad Wing,* *who all enjoyed spending quality time with the kids, laughing and joking, and sharing fun stories.

"This is fun," said Wing. "It's a really good atmosphere and everybody is having a good time."

Circle C Youth & Family Services has four group homes, a foster care program and a transition program where they service foster kids. * *

"It absolutely warms my heart," said Stevenson. "It's so exciting and we are so appreciative of this opportunity."

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