The Pittsburgh Penguins teamed up with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank for their annual Turkey Delivery on Monday afternoon to help 100 deserving families in Pittsburgh’s Hill District prepare for Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s the ninth-straight year for the program, which sends families home with a turkey and a box filled with stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables and desserts, which were put together and decorated by the Pittsburgh Legal Administrators Association.
This year’s turkey team consisted of Jeff Zatkoff and Phil Kessel. Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen and Ian Cole were in charge of the boxes of fixings. Though once things got started, it was hard to keep track of who was responsible for what.
“It’s really great to see (the Penguins) here,” said Karen Bullock, Events and Drives Coordinator at Great Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. “This is their backyard, (but) many of the people who live here – most of us would never have this interaction with the Penguins. So to be handed a turkey and your Thanksgiving meal by someone who you might watch on TV, who you might look up to, that’s really great.”
The players present were more than happy to give back to the community. Not only being on hand to help distribute turkeys and boxes of fixings, but going the extra mile to help everyone carry their turkeys and boxes outside or help pack them up in a car. They even made some new friends along the way.
“Trying to make friends everywhere, you know?” Ian Cole said. “These people are very excited to getting some good Thanksgiving dinner and we’re very excited to be here.”
“It’s fun to get out, especially around holiday time,” Matt Cullen added. “It’s fun to be a part of something like this. It’s really cool. We really enjoy it.”
Even though Cindy Himes, Director for Community Relations of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, has organized quite a few turkey drives now, seeing the players give back isn’t something she takes for granted.
“(The players) all volunteered to do this,” Himes said. “It’s one of the wonderful community initiatives that we do every year over the holidays.”