Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster helps countless Pittsburgh families through his foundation

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USA TODAY Sports

While his injury has prevented him from making an impact on the field, JuJu Smith-Schuster has made an enormous impact in the Pittsburgh community in 2021. Through his foundation, the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ receiver was able to help countless families in the Pittsburgh area during the holiday season. 

A year after donating 250 Thanksgiving meals, Smith-Schuster’s foundation doubled that total this Thanksgiving with the help of over 100 volunteers. Last month, the foundation collected and delivered over 300 toys to a local homeless shelter for Christmas. Smith-Schuster and his foundation then teamed up with Pay Away the Layaway to help 170 families by paying off over $25,000 layaway balances. This past spring, Smith-Schuster awarded $75,000 in grants to 10 Pittsburgh based charitable organizations. 

“Now that I’m not playing, I have so much more time on my hands. … I think it’s very important just to give back,” Smith-Schuster recently told CBS Sports. “Obviously I’m not from Pittsburgh, but being here, the fans and the city supports me, I’ve got to give back. That’s what it’s all about. Everything that was given to me, it was given to them from someone else. I’m just doing the same thing and paving the way for the younger guys, the next generation.”

Founded in 2019, the JuJu Foundation is a non-profit organization “dedicated to the support of youth initiatives and lifting the spirits of those in need.” A California native, Smith-Schuster was quickly embraced by Pittsburgh fans shortly after he was selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. That bond has helped fuel his desire to give back to the Pittsburgh community, regardless of where he is playing next season. 

“It’s just my personality and just being myself,” Smith-Schuster said of his close bond with the Pittsburgh community. “Embracing the city, being able to go to Penguins and Pirates games. I’ve had so many fans come up to me and tell me, ‘Hey JuJu, regardless of if you’re here next year or you go somewhere else, we’ll always support you. We may not wear that colored jersey, but we’ll always be JuJu fans.’ Stuff like that goes a long way because it means so much. Hopefully, the fans have an impact on where I play next year.” 

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