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Pens, American Red Cross Team Up to Support Oklahoma Tornado Victims

by James Santelli / Pittsburgh Penguins

Like so many other people across the nation, Cindy Himes was deeply affected by the pictures from Oklahoma.

When a tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, Himes knew she could do something to help as Director of Community/Alumni Relations of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. The day after the tragedy, Himes and Foundation President Dave Soltesz decided to contact the American Red Cross to organize a collection.

“They're a wonderful organization,” Himes said. “We're more than happy to help them and support their efforts for some of these natural disasters that have happened in our country."

Volunteers stationed themselves at every gate of CONSOL Energy Center and outside the FedEx Ground Fan Zone on Friday night to collect fan donations for those affected in Moore. State officials reported 24 people were killed in the town outside Oklahoma City, and the tornado caused about $2 billion in damage.

Pittsburghers responded by raising an incredible $16,100 for the American Red Cross that will help all of those in need.

The Penguins and the American Red Cross had combined for a similar collection in November, prior to a Tour of Gymnastics Champions event, to support the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

“We're just so thankful that they reached out to us during these kind of times,” said Lauren Ashley of the American Red Cross. “It's been wonderful to know that we've got support like this in our local community and that when we really need people to step up, they do.”

The donations collected prior to Game 5 will provide food and shelter to the victims, as well as relief supplies for volunteers in the cleanup effort.

“We've got volunteers on the ground and people who are trying to provide some relief,” said Ashley. “The donations tonight are going to help us to work towards providing relief to those who need it so badly."

The Penguins and the American Red Cross will continue to work together to provide help when disasters occur.

“They're a very good partner,” Himes said. “We're thrilled to continue our relationship for many years.”

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