Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And thanks to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, 100 families will have a hearty meal on which to feast.
On Thursday afternoon, four Penguins visited the Bedford Hope Center in the Hill District to hand out turkeys, carrots, potatoes, apples and other food items to underprivileged families.
“When you see these young men here you really appreciate what great guys they are,” said Ron Cichowicz, chief communications officer at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. “As we all gather with our families, to know that some of the people in this community will be enjoying a meal that day as well is heart warming.”
Paul Martin, Matt Niskanen, Beau Bennett and Robert Bortuzzo handed out the food in the Penguins’ seventh annual Turkey Delivery. Martin is a veteran having participated in the past and he had the most important job of handing out the bird.
“We’re fortunate to be able to do what we do and to have the crew come in here and put some food on the table for Thanksgiving and it being close to the holidays is very special,” Martin said. “Everyone that comes in is very appreciative. For us to give back is important.”
For Bennett and Bortuzzo, it was their first chance to deliver turkeys. And Bennett really enjoyed the experience.
“It’s good to be out in the community and support all the people,” Bennett said. “Thanksgiving is a big deal in my family. I can only imagine what this means to these guys. It feels good to give back. The more we can do the better.”
After all the food was handed out, the daycare center brought young children down to meet the Penguins.
But the Penguins players weren’t the only ones doing the giving. Two local amateur hockey players also helped hand out stuffing and onions. Fifteen-year-olds Arn Criswell and James Edwards lent a hand and afterwards received autographs and pictures with their hockey idols.
“I’ve always told Arn it’s important to volunteer, this is a great way for him to give back to the community because we love living here,” said Leeretta Payne, the mother of Criswell, who is a goaltender for Montour High School. “They’re showing him that even though they are professionals, they still volunteer. They’re being good mentors.”