Pictured left to right: Erma Conn - Board Member, Pamela Heckman - Volunteer/Fundraising Committee, Ashleigh Riehl - Board Member/Fundraising Coordinator, Patric Hornqvist, Cathy Battle - Executive Director, Rev. Phillip Battle - Board Chair/Founder of the Diaper Bank, Jill Standley - Board Member/Lead Volunteer
After Patric and Malin Hornqvist had their two daughters, 5-year-old Isabella and 1-year-old Vendela, they came to a realization.
"When you start to have kids, you realize how many diapers you go through," Patric said. "I wish every little kid could have diapers and I know some families, they can't afford them."
So Patric and Malin decided to do something about it.
Malin came up with the idea to donate $7,200 - in honor of Patric's jersey number - to the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank to provide diapers prior to Christmas to children from families at the low-income or poverty level in the region.
Patric presented the check to representatives from the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank Thursday morning in Suite 66 at PPG Paints Arena. Afterward, he stayed to chat and sign pucks for the group, who presented him with some of their T-shirts as a token of their appreciation.
"If I can help with a little thing, I think it can make a big difference," Patric said. "My wife came up with it and I'm glad we did it."
They reached out to the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation for help coordinating their donation.
"This certainly has been the season of giving with the Penguins," said Amanda Susko, senior director of Foundation Programs. "Patric connected with us asking how he could provide diapers for babies and we immediately thought of the Western PA Diaper Bank. His desire to help families in need is incredible and this level of generosity has been shared by the team during the holidays."
The Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank, affiliated with the National Diaper Bank Network, is a local nonprofit organization focused on supplying free diapers to pre-qualified families in five counties: Allegheny, Cambria, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland. One in three families struggles to provide clean diapers for their child.
"We got started by asking the question to mothers and grandmothers, what can be done for them that no one else was doing?" said Cathy Battles, the executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank. "They all said diapers. Diapers aren't covered under any government assistance."
So when Battles heard about what Hornqvist was planning to do, she was thrilled.
"I called Amanda on the phone and said 'Ahh, we're so excited!'" she said. "It's people like him that help us do what we do and what we continue to do. Without people's support, we couldn't do it. And with one in three families struggling, we go through 60,000 diapers a month trying to support the families that need them. We're very, very grateful."
As Battles explained, diapers are a basic necessity, but many times families are forced to choose between buying diapers, food or paying bills. And during the winter, families have heating bills that reduce their budgets for diapers even more, so this donation comes at the perfect time.
"It's going to help a lot because I think he's leading by example," Battles said. "He's helping the smallest citizens in our community. They're babies, they can't help themselves. So we have to lead the way. We have to help."
And that's exactly what Hornqvist is doing.