By Teresa Varley
The holiday spirit was in full effect when Steelers players took a group of local at-risk teens shopping as a part of "Shop With A Steeler" at American Eagle Outfitters at Ross Park Mall.
The players assisted 24 kids from KidVoice, a United Way Agency, for a $200 shopping spree for them to purchase clothing for themselves or holiday gifts for other family members.
"It's always a blessing to help someone less fortunate than we are," said wide receiver Santonio Holmes. "We have been blessed to be put in the situation we are and if we have the opportunity to help someone we should be willing to do it, no questions asked."
Holmes was joined at "Shop With A Steeler" by teammates Charlie Batch, Willie Colon, Carey Davis, Mewelde Moore, Jeff Reed, Matt Spaeth and Darnell Stapleton.
"It's fun," said Spaeth. "I like it. It's fun interacting with the kids. Everyone is a little shy at first but then they warm up. They are real good kids. It's always nice to be able to do this, to give back, especially at the holidays."
Reed had the challenge of shopping with just girls and for the most part he let them decide what would be best to purchase.
"I enjoy it," said Reed. "I let them do their thing. I told them if they need help I am here for them. It is more of a challenge but it's awesome. I always look forward to it. I would never turn it down."
And for the girls he took shopping, they were impressed.
"He helped us out," said 17-year old Tiara, who was buying slippers, a purse, lotions and perfumes. "It's a lot of fun. He asked to hold stuff for us."
Most of those shopping selected hoodies, jeans and long sleeve shirts and it didn't take long for them to fill their bags with purchases.
"I had a great time," said Moore. "The kids opened up and had fun. They were looking at what they want and picking it out. When I was about eight or nine I knew what I wanted and when I saw it I would get it. You have to step back and let them do what they do. You fall in and give them some advice about it but you let them go."
One universal theme from the teens as they shopped was how much they enjoyed spending time with the players instead of just getting to watch them on television every Sunday.
"It's was fun just chilling with everyone and shopping," said Tony, who shopped with Spaeth. "They are like regular people. I am happy with what I got."
KidVoiceprovides a voice of hope, a voice of rights and a voice of experience through full-service advocacy for children who otherwise cannot speak for themselves.