Penguins defensemen Brooks Orpik
and Kris Letang
and forward Eric Godard distributed frozen turkeys and holiday meal “fixings” to underprivileged families on Monday afternoon in the Hill District.
“It’s nice to put smiles on people’s faces,” Orpik said. “It’s the least we can do at this time of year. It puts everything in perspective for you and makes you appreciate what you have a lot more. Just putting smiles on people’s faces makes you feel pretty good about what you’re doing.”
In conjuncture with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, 100 pre-selected families received a turkey, yogurt, orange juice and bags of carrots and potatoes.
“We’ve been a partner with the Penguins for 16 years,” said Patty Van Dillen, the Food Bank’s special events coordinator. “This is our second year of the turkey giveaway. Everybody gets to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner. Whenever we get an offer from the Penguins to do something nice like this, we’re just thrilled. It’s the Penguins way to help give back and we appreciate it a lot.”
Some families brought their children, whom shook hands, collected autographs and traded high-fives with the players.
“It’s always fun to help people,” Letang said. “When they walk out of here, they’re really happy to know that we’re behind everyone. Now we’re here to help these people, make them happy and enjoy life. It makes me feel good because I know I did something good today.”
“We are grateful to the Penguins for the turkeys, and for bringing attention to the problem of hunger in our neighborhoods,” said Joyce Rothermel, CEO of the Food Bank. “A holiday meal seems like something every family should be able to enjoy at this time of giving thanks.”
The Penguins started their holiday-season initiatives with a record-breaking food drive at the Nov. 6 game vs. Edmonton at Mellon Arena, benefitting the Food Bank. More than 4,000 pounds of food and more than $2,500 in cash donations were collected. The cash went in part to purchase the turkeys being distributed Monday.
“It humbles you a lot,” Orpik said. “You’re a lot more thankful than you usually are. These are people that have a lot less than us and appreciate it a lot more than we do. It reminds you, especially at this time of year, not to take anything for granted.” View more videos from Pens in the Neighborhood!