On Tuesday afternoon the Pittsburgh Penguins participated in their yearly “Penguins Personal Shopping Day” as part of Project Bundle-Up at Dick’s Sporting Goods, an event where players are paired off with underprivileged children and buy them winter clothing for the cold Pittsburgh winter.
Later that day, their long-time efforts were recognized as the Salvation Army awarded the club with the Project Bundle-Up Award for years of service to the cause during the Salvation Army’s 2009 Allegheny County Doing the Most Good Dinner at the Sheraton Station Square.
“The Pittsburgh Penguins are not only champions on the ice but also within the community,” said WTAE’s Stephen Cropper, the acting Master of Ceremonies. “For this reason, the Salvation Army believes the Pittsburgh Penguins organization has exhibited extraordinary service on behalf of children in the Pittsburgh community and is a well-deserving recipient of the Salvation Army’s 2009 Project Bundle-Up award.”
Cropper presented the award to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
and defenseman Kris Letang
, who represented the organization and accepted the award on behalf of the Penguins.
Fleury was introduced as having done some shopping with children before accepting the award.
Speaking for all the players, it’s a great honor. To receive an award is a good feeling. It’s always a great feeling for me personally and I feel like I can speak for everyone. It’s always fun to interact with kids and put a smile on their face. - Marc-Andre Fleury
“Probably your wives or girlfriends would have been better shoppers, but we had fun,” Fleury joked to the assembled crowd. “Speaking for all the players, it’s a great honor. To receive an award is a good feeling.
“It’s always a great feeling for me personally and I feel like I can speak for everyone. It’s always fun to interact with kids and put a smile on their face.”
“I think it’s fun for everyone to go out and have fun with the kids, make sure they’re smiling at the end of the day,” Letang said earlier in the evening. “It’s fun to do something other than hockey and to help the community. It was fun and I think the kid’s enjoy it.”
For 23 years, Project Bundle-Up has teamed with Pittsburgh Community Partners to ensure that Salvation Army recipients receive the warm winter outwear they deserve. Project Bundle-Up has provided more than 205,000 needy kids and seniors with new winter outwear.
The Penguins were named the Salvation Army Project Bundle-Up award winner because of their “exemplary leadership and compassion for children by participating year-after-year in Project Bundle-Up shopping trips.”
“One of Project Bundle-Up’s key events is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ shopping day,” Cropper said. “Players are matched with needy children for a once-in-a-lifetime personal shopping experience.
“The Pittsburgh Penguins are proud of their commitment to the region and its people – as exemplified by the involvement of the players, coaches and staff in the Salvation Army’s and WTAE-TV’s Project Bundle-Up initiative. A team tradition since the beginning of hockey season in Pittsburgh, the Penguins have been dedicated to serving the community through a variety of interactive charity and community service programs.”
The Penguins were also recognized for their charitable work in participation with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Central Blood Bank, Children’s Hospital of UMPC, Western PA School for the Deaf, Special Olympics, Toys for Tots and children from the team’s Pen Pals Program, which serves individuals stricken with illness or loss.
“You always feel good,” Letang said of the club’s charity work. “You always want to do something good for others. To do things with kids or others less fortunate, it’s something that we take pride in. We have fun too because people are really nice to ice and we enjoy it. Every time we can do it, we try to do it.”
“It’s good for us too, the players,” Fleury said. “We have such great fans and there are some kids that aren’t as fortunate as us. It’s good for us to get out there and try to help them out a little a bit.”
And the Penguins are happy to be recognized for their enormous work within the Pittsburgh community.
“It means a lot,” Letang said. “You don’t want to be just recognized as a good hockey team or a good player. You want to be recognized for being a good person. You should do anything for the people around you to make the city better. It’s always nice to receive an award like this.”