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Pens Take Kids Shopping for "Project Bundle-Up"

by Joey Sykes / Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby may be affiliated with the black and gold whenever he hits the ice, but the Pittsburgh Penguins captain couldn’t seem to stray away from the pink and purple during his Monday afternoon shopping spree with his new friends Olivia and Selena.

At around 2 p.m. the Penguins arrived at the Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Cranberry Township to participate in the eighth annual Project Bundle-Up. As part of the annual “Penguins Personal Shopping Day,” Penguins players were matched with local middle school children selected by The Salvation Army to shop for new winter clothing including coats, hats, gloves and boots.

The fun didn't cease after all the clothes were paid for. Players also took silly pictures in a photo booth with their charges before sitting down with their new friends to sign autographs and eat candy.

Gallery: Project Bundle Up

Crosby’s task for the day was to find an article of winter gear that was purple for Olivia, 8, and pink for Selena, 6.

First came the boots, which probably was the tough decision of the day for the girls to make, as there was quite a variety. The conundrum would be settled as soon as Crosby found each a pair lined with their respective colors.

After the debacle of which pair of boots to choose, the trio ran into Steve Downie and his shopping buddy, Rosaura, who was also fond of the all-pink trend.

“You’ve got good taste,” Downie said to a giggling Selena after she showed him what pair she decided to pick.

When it came time to pick out coats, Olivia and Selena knew exactly which ones they wanted after spotting them from across the winter clothing section. However, for Crosby, they seemed to be just a bit out of reach.

“You guys just pick the first ones you see, don’t you?” he said jokingly as he struggled to grab the coats from the top rack.

The rest of the items came easy to Crosby and the girls, but before they could check out, a stop at the photo booth was in store. Olivia and Serena picked out an oversized pair of sunglasses for him to wear, while they themselves decided to throw on a multicolored scarf as well as their own pair of stylish shades.

To Crosby, the experience was pretty successful overall.

“I was lucky to have these two shoppers with me and it went pretty good,” he said. “They had all the sizes and the girls knew what colors they liked. They made it pretty easy on me. We enjoy doing it and it’s a lot of fun for us and I think the kids have fun.”

Olivia’s day was made as soon as she met Crosby before they went out for their shopping trip.

“This is the best day ever!” Olivia said. “I think (Serena and me) were the lucky ones.”

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Pascal Dupuis isn’t just a seasoned veteran on the ice. Clothes shopping is an area of expertise for the Penguins winger, as he has four kids of his own.

Today, he was able to put that expertise to use. His 8-year-old shopping buddies Braiden and Caleb were the same age as his son Kody, so Dupuis had an idea of what they might like. And as both boys were very low-maintenance, it made for an enjoyable shopping experience for all three of them.

“It was really easy for me today,” Dupuis said. “I had two kids that are exactly my son’s age that liked the same colors and were exact same size in everything, basically. And they wanted the same thing, even though they’re not buddies. Now I guess today, I think created a couple buddies (laughs). They’re going to recognize each other in the schoolyard, because they’ll be wearing the exact same thing every day.”

Dupuis is known for his jovial personality. He’s a fun-loving guy who enjoys joking around and always has a smile on his face. He’s like a big kid himself, so his shopping buddies got along with him magnificently.

“It was really fascinating shopping with him because he’s really funny and he joked around with us,” said Braiden, who’s a big Pens fan and was super excited when he found out that he would be shopping with Dupuis. “And he showed us a lot of new stuff clothes-wise.”

One of Dupuis’ antics, said Braiden, was “he would get us a bigger boot size.”

Dupuis may have pranked his kids throughout the day, but at the end of it he made sure they had everything they needed to stay safe this winter.

“They’ll be all bundled up like the whole program says,” Dupuis said. “You want these kids to stay warm all winter. As a dad, I did pretty good for them to keep them warm.”

Another Penguin known for having a happy-go-lucky personality is goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He had double the fun (or trouble, ha!) shopping with 7-year-old Nevaeh and 6-year-old Sarayah.

The cutest moment of their outing came when it was time for them to get their picture taken in the photobooth. Fleury chose a pair of oversized green sunglasses from a table full of props and when he put them on, the girls just couldn’t handle it. They immediately broke down with laughter.

“He looks so silly!” one of them gasped through her giggles.

“My favorite part of the day was when we were taking the picture,” Nevaeh said later. “He was putting on the big glasses and it was funny!”

Fleury called the day “fun” and “entertaining,” adding, “it just seems like lately, the winters have been a little stronger. Definitely good to see these little girls get warm clothes and be ready for it.”

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was one of the offseason acquisitions experiencing Project Bundle-Up for the first time.

He was the first to arrive and was paired up with a little girl named G'anna, who immediately informed Ehrhoff that her favorite color was purple.

“That’s perfect,” Ehrhoff told her, “because I have two daughters and one’s favorite color is purple. The other is pink.”

And off they went for a fast and easy shopping trip, picking out boots, gloves, a coat, hat, and other items in record time (all while trying to stick with the color purple). After they finished, the pair sat down at a table, where G'anna shared a bag of candy with Ehrhoff before trying to scare him by wearing a set of plastic vampire teeth.

“It went great,” Ehrhoff said of his first-ever shopping trip. “She was really quick. She knew what she wanted. Her first choice was always what we ended up with and it was fun. I have kids myself at home and you want the kids to be warm in the winter, and I think this is a great and fun event for us to do.”

BONUS: How great is this photo of Evgeni Malkin and his shopping partner Justin?!

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