Sidney Crosby only had to ask one question to eight-year-old Wyatt on Tuesday before they embarked on their trip around the winter clothing section.
“What is your favorite color?” Crosby asked.
“Blue,” Wyatt said.
And then the shopping trip could begin.
Though Crosby and the Penguins weren’t on the ice for a game Monday afternoon, adding another tally in the assist column may be in order.
The Penguins took part in the seventh annual Project Bundle-Up at Dick’s Sporting Goods at The Mall at Robinson on Monday. Each Penguins player was paired with an underprivileged child and shopped around the store for a brand new, warm winter outfit.
The Salvation Army provided the funds for the shopping excursion and children were selected from The Salvation Army of Washington, Pa. for the annual project, one that Crosby said the Penguins enjoy participating in every single year.
“It is fun,” Crosby said. “I think Wyatt is pretty excited about today. We had fun, got to know him a little bit and got some warm clothes, so he is all set.”
The players helped each child pick out boots, gloves, coats, hats and other clothing items that they could not have afforded to purchase otherwise.
Crosby and Wyatt spent plenty of time trying on boots, trying on five pairs until they found the perfect pair.
“It was pretty easy,” Crosby said on the trip around the winter clothing section. “He likes the color blue, so we got everything blue that we needed. We are all set.”
Crosby and Wyatt ran into Pascal Dupuis along the way, with Crosby receiving a gentle, friendly shove from his linemate after criticizing Dupuis’ knowledge of fashion. While Dupuis’ teammates may question his sense of style, they can’t argue the fact that the veteran winger has the most experience at this kind of clothes shopping – as he’s already had to do it for his three daughters and one son.
“This is probably my fifth one this year, (in addition) to my own four kids shopping for winter clothes,” he smiled. “It has been great, the kids are great. The kids are really happy. It was really easy for me today. Jordan was really easy to shop with and she knew what she wanted. We got boots, winter coat, gloves, hat and a scarf. All I did was carry the bag today.”
All jokes aside, Dupuis said that this event only scratches the surface of what the children of the greater Pittsburgh community need for a cold winter.
“It means a lot to be out here today, giving back some,” Dupuis said. “I know when they get back home they will probably be the only ones with the newer coats and boots, which will be great for the kids but at the same time, it would be great to do even more.”
For information on how to help, visit www.projectbundleup.com.
* A few Penguins became new fathers this year, including goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury – whose daughter Estelle was born in April. And while Fleury has always realized just how important the objective of this program is, having a child of his own only intensifies his paternal instinct to help keep these kids protected.
“I think we realize it before we have kids, but when you do have one and you realize how much you want to be able to keep them safe and covered from the cold, I think it’s just such great initiative from Dick’s and the Salvation Army just to make this work,” Fleury said.
Incidentally, Fleury’s shopping buddy was actually named Tanner (not sure why another new dad, Tanner Glass, didn’t get him!), and the goaltender, who is from the stylish province of Quebec, helped his little guy make sure his clothing was coordinated. After they picked out a white winter jacket with red and black accents, Fleury said they had to make sure to match his gloves and hat. “We’ve got to get some red in there,” Fleury said. And Tanner did, picking out a cool winter hat (or toque, as the Canadian-born players call it) decorated with flames.
* Beau Bennett does not have any kids of his own, as he’s still one himself at age 21. And he certainly doesn’t have a lot of experience shopping for females, but he does have a 15-year-old sister – so he drew on what he knows from growing up with her to help find clothing for his shopping parter Laci.
“(Shopping for a girl) was different, but I have a little sister,” Bennett said. “She’s more of a tomboy; she plays hockey, but I kind of knew what I was getting into.”
The two of them hit the racks with a certain color scheme in mind: “We decked her out in all hot pink, so she’s going to look good. I think that was the trend,” Bennett smiled. Laci had a blast shopping with the player the guys have nicknamed “Sunshine,” who lived up to the moniker as he was funny, animated and showed her his goofy side. At one point, when Laci tried on a pink furry hat, Bennett put a matching one on his head. Laci loved it, giggling, “He tried one on too. He looked good. He was like, ‘I should get one myself’!”
Overall, Bennett said he had an “awesome” time at his first-ever Project Bundle-Up. “Laci was awesome all day and we had a lot of fun, so it was definitely a good experience,” he said.
Written by Dave Uhrmacher and Michelle Crechiolo