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Gobble Gobble

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

Thanksgiving isn’t just a time to gather with family and friends – it’s an excuse to forget worrying about waistlines and eat plenty of comfort food, especially turkey.

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And for the fifth-straight year, Penguins players ensured that 100 less fortunate families would have the opportunity to do just that when they handed out free turkeys and other food items in the Hill District on Wednesday.

Jordan Staal, Pascal Dupuis, Richard Park and Joe Vitale went to the Addison Terrace Hall after practice this afternoon to distribute turkeys, vegetables and potatoes to families registered with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

“You talk about the holidays and Thanksgiving is a time for family and good food,” Vitale said. “Obviously to provide these people with that part of it is a special thing. I’m really glad to have had the opportunity to do it with the other guys. It’s been a great day.”

And the citizens who received food items from the players couldn’t say enough about getting to have a real Thanksgiving dinner.

“I’ll tell you what, it’s just a blessing,” said Timothy Kane. “I feel very blessed, as do all of us. We all need help sometimes.”

Apart from Staal, who participated in the organization’s first-ever turkey delivery his rookie year, the other players were all first-time distributors.

The opportunity to make sure families had a wonderful holiday is one they all jumped on – and thoroughly enjoyed.

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“It’s good to give back. It’s great,” Dupuis said. “As soon as we can help, guys are coming. I heard that we were distributing turkeys this year and I said, ‘I want to be part of this.’”

Added Staal, “It’s great. It’s easy for us. There are obviously a lot of people behind the scenes doing a lot of good work. They got this event all organized. There are a lot of happy people coming through here with some fresh food.

“There’s no better way to give back than to give Thanksgiving dinner to families, and I’m glad we can share that with people.”

One of those people working behind the scenes to ensure the turkey delivery is a success each year is Iris Valanti, director of communications at Greater Pittsburgh Community Bank.

Not only does the turkey delivery brighten the days of the families, but Valanti explained that the players’ participation gives the event a higher profile.

“It’s not just that the Penguins do good things for the hungry – they raise awareness wherever they go,” Valanti said. “For them to share that with us and really raise a little awareness about the spoils of hunger, particularly at this time of year, is absolutely invaluable.”
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