#BurghProud: Pittsburgh teams host Thanksgiving distribution

November 23rd, 2022

The holiday spirit was very much evident on the North Shore on Tuesday afternoon when Pittsburgh’s three major professional sports teams hosted their #BurghProud Thanksgiving meal distribution event. Over a two-hour period, an estimated 300 families in need stopped by the cul-de-sac on Mazeroski Way outside of PNC Park and had turkey and all the makings for Thanksgiving dinner loaded into their vehicles.

Representing their teams and greeting members of the community were: pitcher David Bednar, bench coach Don Kelly and former pitcher Steve Blass of the Pirates; wingers Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust and defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Chad Ruhwedel of the Penguins; and quarterback Mitch Trubisky and defensive backs Ahkello Witherspoon and Karl Joseph of the Steelers.

The event, which was held for the second straight year in partnership with Giant Eagle supermarkets and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, also included front office staff from each team as well as their mascots. Items distributed included turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, vegetables, and apple pie -- plus Giant Eagle gift cards and team merchandise.

“It’s pretty special when members of the three local professional sports teams come together in service to our community like this,” said Jacque Skowvron, executive director of Pirates Charities and community. “When your neighbors are in need, you help. That’s really the spirit of Pittsburgh. When the community needs us, we’re here.

“A lot of families that haven’t struggled before are struggling this year because of inflation and the high cost of everything. Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday for families and friends to gather around the table for a great meal, and we didn’t want some families to have to go without that. The need in the community was definitely there.”

Brian Gulish, vice president of marketing and communications for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, also attended Tuesday’s event, and shared the following thoughts:

“It really was the teams taking the initiative and coming together that made this happen. They reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, we want to do it again. We want to support the community.’ The need right now rivals the early days of the pandemic. We’re not at that peak level, but because of inflation and other variables, the need is definitely on the high end. The teams help so much because not only do they donate their players and their time, they also make a financial commitment to support this initiative. That benefits not only the food bank, but the community as a whole.”

Bednar, who graduated from Mars High School north of Pittsburgh, has plans to attend a large family gathering at his aunt’s house in Peters Township, south of the city, on Thanksgiving. The 28-year-old reliever enjoyed the spirit of the meal distribution event last November and wanted to be part of it again.

“It’s awesome anytime you can get the three teams together for a good cause,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have such a great fan base and community here in Pittsburgh. So, we’re happy to give back and offer our support anytime we can.”

Bednar also isn’t shy about his love for the Thanksgiving meal.

“I’m sure I’m going to eat a lot of turkey and mashed potatoes and everything else,” he said. “Thanksgiving dinner is tough to beat. It’s top notch. I’m really going to enjoy it.”

And with help from the Pirates, Penguins and Steelers, many local families in need will too.