It was tradition that started when he was a player, and has continued for Steelers alumni Will Allen now that his playing days are over.
Photos from the 5th Annual Will Allen Foundation "Holiday Giving Program."
Allen, who has remained in the Pittsburgh area, hosted the 5th Annual Will Allen Foundation "Holiday Giving Program." Allen, who was joined by Arthur Moats and Charlie Batch, took kids from the Boys & Girls Club on a holiday shopping spree not just for themselves, but for their families as well.
The kids were permitted to pick out gifts they could enjoy, but also something for their siblings, parents, grandparents and the like, teaching them a valuable lesson.
"It has become a tradition," said Allen. "It is one of the aspects of the holiday I enjoy. To partner with the Boys & Girls Club has been awesome. Through my time with the Steelers, we always gave to United Way partners like the Boys & Girls Club. We targeted and wanted to help families from the Boys & Girls Club that are having some financial troubles during the holiday season. We want to let them know the community supports you. We are going to bat for you."
The event has grown from the first year when eight families were assisted, to this year when 60 were helped. And it does take the entire community to make it happen, with donations coming from individuals to corporations to help with it. It also takes a lot of volunteers, including students from Allen's Quest for Real Life Success program, who each teamed up with a child for the shopping adventure.
"This was part of their monthly community service," said Allen. "They help keep the younger kids on budget, help them to pick out gifts for their families. There is some math and community outreach there for them.
"It's just great the way everyone is involved. It's grown more than I ever could have imagined."