Steelers Give Back to Pittsburgh Families in Time for the Holidays
PITTSBURGH -- Vance McDonald and the Pittsburgh Steelers partnered with Convoy of Hope to bring goods and services to a hundreds of Pittsburgh children and families. McDonald has been part of Convoy of Hope since his time in San Francisco, and after two years of effort, brought a night filled with smiles to the Steel city.
The night was filled with crafts and activities for the children, all joined by members of the Steelers who made their way around Heinz Field, interacting with everyone. The team and Convoy of Hope were able to gift hundreds of families with socks, shoes, groceries and a number of health tests and tips.
Convoy of Hope is a faith-based non-profit organization that helps empower others to live with greater independence and freedom from poverty, disease, and hunger.
McDonald has been involved with Convoy of Hope for five years and has loved being involved with their programs during his time in the NFL.
"I got involved in Convoy with my wife back in 2014, and they haven't done any pro events at that point and we just thought with their model - they have feeding programs, agriculture programs, women's empowerment all over the world, they do disaster relief - and we thought, yanno if I can bring convoy to the 49ers, and they made it happen," McDonald said. "And it was such an amazing event, more than anything, I was so happy that the guys could get involved. Then when we got traded we were like, 'we absolutely have to do anything we can to bring this here,' and this is the first year and it's so great. And I really hope that it blossoms into more in the future."
McDonald was joined by several of his teammates, including Ben Roethlisberger and Devlin 'Duck' Hodges. The players were swarmed by fans as they entered the fourth-floor of Heinz Field, taking pictures with fans and signing jerseys. A moment McDonald loves about these events.
"It was cool. We got down, like five minutes after we were supposed to and everything was already super busy. So before you know it, people started recognizing jerseys and like turning around, and they're like, 'are you a football player? Are you really a football player?' And before you know, everyone is flooding to us," McDonald said. "So it was really cool and you know that adds a lot to their night and the fact that we're already at Heinz Field, it really unique for all these families. It's just so cool because I know how much we mean to the people of Pittsburgh. So it's been a great night."
McDonald has been trying bring Convoy of Hope to Pittsburgh for two years. His efforts gained some traction last year, but as things fell through they needed to wait another season.
This is Convoy of Hope's fifth Pro Event, partnered with NFL and college teams. With a great turnout, McDonald is hoping it continues.
"It's been almost about two years. We had a little bit of headway last season, but it didn't end up working out," McDonald said. "So, having it this year I've already gotten a lot of feedback and hopefully we'll be able to expand and move on and do it again."
Convoy of Hope spokesperson, Jeff Nene, said the Steelers were able to pick how the event happened. Nene spoke on Convoy's "honored guest" system - assuring every guest feels like they are special - and how the Steelers used their home to do so.
"This is the Steelers' home, this is their house," Nene said. "So, they've created an atmosphere where these folks can come in and feel like an honored guest, and we're excited that they're here."
To McDonald, a night where the Steelers are able to give back is great for all parties involved. Their first time partnering with Convoy of Hope was a complete success in the tight end's eyes, and he's excited to bring the two sides together.
"I think that this event, for the guys, for the team, for the organization, it's spectacular," McDonald said. "For the community to be able to give back so many hundreds of dollars worth of goods and services to families right around the holiday season, it's great time for everyone."