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Pens Wives, Girlfriends Contribute to "Operation Christmas Child"

Friday, 11.12.2010 / 11:54 AM / Features
By Tony Jovenitti
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Pens Wives, Girlfriends Contribute to \"Operation Christmas Child\"
The Penguins players aren’t the only ones that donate time and energy to charities. Their wives and girlfriends also frequently do their part to make a difference.

Before Pittsburgh’s Nov. 10 game against Boston, all of the wives and girlfriends who were present gathered near the CONSOL Energy Center family lounge and packed shoeboxes full of toys and necessities to send to some of the poorest children in the world for Christmas.

Pens' wives/girlfriends putting packages of toys and other items to be sent to poor children around the world (Pittsburgh Penguins).
“This is pretty much the only gift that these kids have ever received,” said Christi Rupp, the wife of Penguins forward Mike Rupp.

Rupp arranged the event—which benefits “Operation Christmas Child.” Last year, the event’s organizers, Samaritan’s First, sent 8 million shoeboxes to 138 different countries.

“It’s sent to the poorest children, whether it’s due to war or natural disasters like the Earthquake in Haiti,” Christi said. “They’re trying to send 250,000 shoeboxes just to Haitian children affected by the earthquake.”

The wives and girlfriends went out and purchased bags and bags full of small toys, school supplies and basic necessities such as socks, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Then, prior to the game, they got together and put them all in shoeboxes and covered them in Christmas wrap.

This marked the first time that the Penguins’ wives and girlfriends donated shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, but Christi participated in the event several times before.

“I’ve done it with other teams before,” Christi said. “When Mike played in New Jersey, some of the girls got together and did it there. I started it with my children, and I brought it up to the girls (in Pittsburgh) and they wanted to do it.”

Erin Lilly, Brooks Orpik’s girlfriend, said she loved the idea.

“It’s fun when people show up and do the hard work, and it’s a great result in the end,” Lilly said. “I think there’s a good group of girls here who all like participating in any event presented. No one has ever said no.

“We’re just trying to make Christmas a little bit better for kids who don’t usually get presents.”

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