December 28, 2004 |

Youngsters go shopping with the Steelers

Computer Club members joined on spree by NFL players

Young participants in the Brashear Association's Saint Clair Village Computer Club received a very special Christmas surprise this year. In cooperation with the United Way, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Dick's Clothing and Sporting Goods, Brashear Association took 20 children on a holiday shopping trip with players from the Steelers.
The program, Shop with a Steeler, is the local variation of a national program that pairs NFL players with underprivileged children for holiday shopping trips. The United Way, Dick's, and the Steelers collaborated to organize this program in Pittsburgh.
The three organizations provided the children with $100 gift cards and asked eight Steelers players to assist them with their purchases. The 20 children from the Brashear Association ranged in age from seven to 14. They were identified based on their attendance at the computer club.
These children, together with 20 children from Family Resources, arrived at the spacious Dick's store in Robinson on a snowy Tuesday evening, and filed into the front row of the Antwaan Randle El radio show. The show, which is taped every week at the sporting goods store, was a great experience for the children; many were awestruck as Randle El entered and fans crowded the audience.
As the children ate pizza and watched the football star speak, Randle El stressed the importance of the participation of athletes in charitable activities. Randle El, a wide receiver with the Steelers, also discussed his own childhood influences and his commitment to work with children.
Randle El's message and character resonated with many of the children. Desiree Murphy, 11, was delighted to shop with the football star.
“I think it was very kind of Antwaan Randle El and the other Steelers, and Dick's and the United Way, to invite us to shop at Dick's Sporting Goods – and we really appreciate it,” she said. “I hope we get to come again and I get to shop with him again.”
Desiree further appreciated his eye for fashion as she recalled “the outfit that Antwaan Randle El picked out for me.” her favorite purchase,
The rest of the children were equally impressed with the other players they met as well as the items they were able to purchase. Thirteen-year-old Terrell Grant couldn't decide what he liked best about the evening, but he was sure that fullback Verron Haynes was a highlight of the night.
“He was very cool for shopping with us…I hope we can do something like this again be-
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cause it was a lot of fun,” Terrell said.
Though some of the younger children involved in Shop with a Steeler were initially shy around the Steelers, by the end of the evening many were holding the players' hands or riding in their arms. The football players clicked with the children and, more importantly, guided them in the selection of wise shopping choices.
One ten-year-old left the store with shoes, a reversible coat, gloves and a hat. A 12-year-old followed with tennis shoes, warm socks, and thermals. The influence of the players on the children was evident. Though the toys and gadgets Dick's has to offer attracted many of the children, the Steelers helped steer them to more appropriate items that would meet with parental approval.
Though eight-year-old Ebony Murphy insisted on buying everything in pink, she found items her mother would like. “My mom was very excited – I bought some pink shoes, a pink outfit, some pink socks. My mom was happy,” Ebony Said
At the end of the evening, as 20 sleepy children tramped off to the school bus with arms full of white shopping bags, it was clear that this program did more than introduce local children to star athletes. Shop with a Steeler injected joy into the holiday season.
As the program came to a close that night, one 13-year-old boy epitomized this point as he remarked that, “This is the best thing that's ever happened to me.”
The Brashear Association is a United Way agency.

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