As the holidays approach, it’s always nice to be reminded that the boys we watch throw big hits and sometimes pummel other players also have big hearts. And, that the team who is throwing advertisements and sponsorships at us right and left, does some good too.
In August, Max Talbot and Mike Rupp visited devastated areas of Haiti with team Chaplin Brad Henderson to try to bring some smiles and hockey equipment to kids in an orphanage as well as to gain some perspective. After returning, Talbot pledged to do what he could to help Haitian orphans. Earlier this month, he got together some of his teammates together to paint and add their personal touches to white shoes to be auctioned off last week. The money raised from the auction will go to help Henderson with a project to build a new orphanage.
On November 10th, the Penguins honored 12 local “Wounded Warriors” by inviting them to the team’s morning skate and presenting them with gifts from the team. They were also guests of the team and honored that the game that night. Messages thanking veterans and the troops taped by the American born players and coach Bylsma were shown throughout the game that night. The Pens continued to honor our service members when they invited lifelong Pens fan Patrick McIlvain to meet the team later that week in the locker room. McIlvain nearly lost his life when he was struck in the head by a bullet during battle. The team also wore wristbands supporting a foundation that his family set up to help others in similar situations.
We’ve all gotten used to the amazing things that the Lemieux Foundation does in the area. Now, they’ve taken it one step further to help the families of wounded service members. The Foundation has announced plans to build an Austin’s Playroom in the Warrior Transition Unit at the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Facility scheduled to open in September in Bethesda, MD. An online auction took place earlier this month and its centerpiece, Crosby and Lemieux’s locker room stalls from the Civic Arena, brought in over in over $35,000 for the cause. You can check out http://www.mariolemieux.org/app/awpp2.html#sponsor for more information on this project or text “Mario” to 50555 to donate to this particular project.
The Pens once again took part in the Salvation Army’s “Project Bundle Up” and took a few lucky kids shopping for winter clothing. From the accounts that I checked out, it seems like the day might have been as much fun for the players as the kids. Malkin even bought himself and the kid he was paired with matching hats. The players’ wives and girlfriends have also been finding ways to put smiles on kids’ faces. Christi Rupp organized an assembly of boxes for “Operation Christmas Child.” The wives and girlfriends went out and purchased tons of small gifts, school supplies, and necessities and packed them into shoeboxes which they then wrapped. The boxes will be shipped to needy children around the world.
While the Sports and Exhibition Authority is taking every cent it can from whoever wants to buy a pair of refurbished seats that someone else sat in for years, the Pens are at least doing some good with their relics from the Civic Arena. All memorabilia belonging to the team will be auctioned to in part benefit the Penguins Foundation which is the umbrella charity for the Penguins youth initiatives and youth hockey. The bottled Igloo water also benefits the Penguins Foundation.
On November 10th, the Penguins hosted the 19th annual “Score Against Hunger” Food Drive to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. 1,515 pounds of food and $2,267.00 were collected. Speaking of the Food Bank, for the 4th straight year, Pens players handed out Turkeys and other food items at a community center in the Hill District. The event is held with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and benefits 120 families.
The Booster Club began selling its 5th in a series Christmas ornament on November 15th to benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh. On Monday, December 6th and Wednesday, December 8th, the Pens will participate in the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive for the 18th year. Fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys or cash donations to the gates before the games.
Just some warm fuzzies while we sometimes wait for the team to heat things up on the ice. Or in the building. Seriously, you’d think a building called the Consol Energy Center would be warmer than a building called the Igloo. Should we see if Allegheny Power or someone wants to sponsor the heating bill?