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Pens help youth "bundle up" for winter

by Pens writing staff @PensInsideScoop / Penguins

As Sidney Crosby was getting ready to shop for new winter clothing with 4-year-old Catalina on Friday as part of the Salvation Army's "Project Bundle-Up" program, he had a question for his new friend.

"What's your favorite color?" he asked. "Purple?"

Catalina nodded in the affirmative. "Yes! Took a guess," Crosby said with a grin.

After Catalina flashed a smile to show Crosby she was missing her two front teeth - "That's a hockey smile," he said - the two of them walked around the DICK'S Sporting Goods located in Cranberry as part of the annual "Penguins Personal Shopping Day." The players are partnered with local middle school children to shop for new winter clothing including coats, hats, gloves, scarves and boots.

"It's a great program because they're not getting hand-me-downs, they're not getting used items," said Philip Lloyd, general secretary of the Western Pennsylvania division of the Salvation Army. "They're actually getting to go shopping for the coat they want in whatever style and color that they want. It adds a little bit of dignity. Even for the kids, that's important."

Finding Catalina a coat was the first item on Crosby's list. They stopped to peruse a rack filled with them, looking at an all-purple option and a purple-and-white patterned option. Crosby had the awareness to realize that the latter option might get more dirty, so they went with the former.

Overall, Crosby was so good and patient with the little girl, making sure everything fit properly while matching their theme at the same time. He asked her to make sure she could lift her arms in the coat and made sure she could walk and run in her boots.

Video: Players help kids shop for winter clothing

"We had fun," Crosby said with a smile. "We went with purple as our color in mind and I think we got everything purple, so we're good."

This is the 13th year that the Penguins have visited DICK'S Sporting Goods for "Project Bundle-Up," and it's something that the captain looks forward to every year, an opportunity to spend some time with the kids and make sure that they're set for the cold weather - which started setting in today.

"I think just getting to know the kids and seeing that they're going to get some good things here; at the end of the day, that's the most important thing," he said. "I'd say that's really what we take out of it.

"He then stopped and looked at Catalina with a grin.

"There's maybe a couple extra things in (the bag), I don't know," he said. "We'll see."

* Kris Letang shopped with an energetic 5-year-old named Carmen. After trying on a pair of boots, Letang asked her to test out how they feel. Carmen broke into a dance and strutted through the aisle as Letang looked on with a smile.

Minutes later, Letang couldn't hold back an "awe" after Carmen tried on a purple beanie and flashed a wide grin. They finished their day by getting their pictures taken at the Photo Booth. Letang looked through the various props asking, "Do you want to wear any of these, or just stay perfect like you already are?"

"To do the event is important for me because now I have kids," said Letang, who has a son and daughter. "It's super important to make sure they're well dressed for the winter."

* Zach Aston-Reese may be good at hockey, but his floss dance could use some work. He showed off his moves to Allen, 9. But Allen clapped back with a flawless floss followed by some more Fortnite moves.

* Patric Hornqvist pulled the double shift, shopping with two young boys. As they approached the checkout line, he saw an assortment of hats. "You need a Penguins hat. Let's get you a Penguins hat," he told 6-year-old N'ashon. Though it wasn't on their shopping list, Hornqvist made sure that his partner could rock the Black and Gold.

* Dominik Kahun was paired with 4-year-old Gabby, and the two were inseparable. Literally. As they walked around the store, Gabby held on tightly to Kahun's hand. As they rode the escalator down, they were nearing the bottom. Gabby held on to Kahun's hand the both of them jumped over the connective stair portion and landed safely on the other side.

* It was a good day for everyone, as every Penguin made an appearance to shop with the kids. It was an afternoon well spent.

"It's fun. I love having the opportunity to meet the kids and seeing the energy that they bring," Crosby said, "just how excited they are to get new stuff and meet some of the guys, that's what it's all about."

To view photos from the event, click here for the photo gallery.

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