NORTH OLMSTED --
With the help of the Cleveland Browns and his A.R.K. (Acts of Random Kindness) Foundation, Steinbach and 14 of his Browns teammates welcomed 30 kids from the Beech Brook foster care program to Dick’s Sporting Goods at Great Northern Mall for a ‘Shop with a Pro’ shopping spree.
“I try to do a few things every year, but this is really the main event because it’s around Christmastime and a lot of people give back around the holidays,” Steinbach said of his fifth annual ‘Shop with a Pro’ event. “This is just a good setup. Dick’s has been very generous to us, helping us out. Every year, the Browns that come out and participate have fun too because you go on a shopping spree with a kid, sit down and eat pizza with them, get to know them and this year, we actually got paired up with two kids.”
Earlier this season, Steinbach hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for underprivileged families in the Berea area. He, along with help from the Browns’ kitchen staff, deep-fried turkeys for the Thanksgiving meal.
“We try to do three or four main events besides donating anonymously to different stuff,” said Steinbach. “We’ll have three or four events where I’ll have Browns players involved and we’ll try to target a different group of people in town or a different age group, military, what have you. This year, the group was a teenage group on the east side. It’s good because people want to help out the little kids around this time and so the teenagers sometimes get left out.”
For Monday’s shopping event, Steinbach was joined by fellow offensive linemen
“We had a nice, diverse group, offense, defense and a lot of guys came up to support it,” Steinbach said. “Any time you get out in the community and help, you feel good walking away from it. Really, around here, they all get excited. You’re eating pizza and meeting Browns and the Browns guys enjoy shopping around too. It’s fun, it’s a good time and around this time, these guys get excited because who wouldn’t want to go on a shopping spree?”
The Beech Brook foster care program is part of the Pepper Pike, Ohio-based multi-service mental and behavioral health agency. Beech Brook, which has a community-based office in Cleveland, currently has approximately 130 children and teenagers in their own foster network.
“It’s really amazing for the kids,” said Nancy Kortemeyer, assistant vice president of marketing and public relations for Beech Brook. “It’s an experience they won’t forget soon, especially because a lot are teens and teenagers in foster care can sometimes be forgotten at the holidays. People think of donating toys or visits from Santa, but for the teens, it’s a really special time for them to come and be with the players and shop for shoes. Eric and his wife (Carrie) were so generous from their foundation. The players were so gracious and fun with the kids.”
She added, “It’s wonderful for all of us who have been on staff because we know what the kids have been through. Many of these kids have had really hard childhoods. They’ve been in multiple placements; they’ve been removed from their families, some of them permanently. They’ve all experienced a lot of trauma, so to see them joyful and excited, it’s just a wonderful thing for all of us.”