There were plenty of happy faces when Steelers Cortez Allen and Cam Heyward helped distribute backpacks and back to school supplies to children served through CASA at the Schenley Park Skating Rink.
CASA, which is short for Court Appointed Special Advocates, works with children in the child welfare systems that are neglected or abused. The advocates serve as a voice for the children in court and other situations to help ensure that every child has a safe, supportive and permanent home.
"It was awesome. It was humbling to be a part of it," said Heyward. "The kids were excited to be there. They didn't care that we were Steelers players. They were just excited to get their backpacks. The school supplies will help them out and it was great we could contribute in any way possible."
The children, who ranged from toddlers to college age, received backpacks, school supplies and gift cards to purchase back to school clothes and shoes, all donated by CentiMark Foundation.
"It's always great when you can give back, especially for education," said Allen. "A lot of kids don't understand that's a major part of how we as professional athletes got to this point. You can't get to this point without an education and if you don't do the right things to stay in school. I am big on education and the development of young kids."
The players didn't just hand out the backpacks, but also signed autographs, posed for pictures and had fun with the kids while they had their caricatures drawn and enjoyed balloon art.
"It's wonderful," said Monica Gay, CASA of Allegheny County Development Director. "When you are a kid, having a new backpack, having a new t-shirt to wear on the first day of school means everything. Being able to give those things to the kids is invaluable. It helps them get the school year started on the right foot.
"The kids were so excited. To see so many of them get to meet guys who are their sports heroes, it was really a great addition to the event."