On Saturday, Philadelphia Club Frontiers International will host its 10th Annual Holiday Shopping Spree and Toy Giveaway for youngsters from needy families.
"The most rewarding part is that most of the children buy clothes and toys for others in the family, instead of themselves," said Steven Bradley, president of Philadelphia Frontiers.
Ten years ago, the Frontiers took fewer than 50 children shopping, said Darryl Boozer, chairman of the last year's shopping spree.
But in recent years, the group has taken as many as 250 children shopping and has treated them afterward to lunch.
This year, however, donations have been cut back drastically because of the sagging economy. And one of its biggest donors, a church that gave a sizable donation last year, had to halve that gift this year.
So the Frontiers, formed here in 1942 as the second-oldest and largest affiliate of Frontiers International, is asking for help to fund the event.
"The needs are great but the resources are limited," Bradley said. "With so many parents losing their jobs, it's going to be a sad Christmas for many children."
The club hopes to take 250 children shopping at the Target store on City Avenue. The children will then have lunch at the nearby TGI Friday's.
Bradley said the children, ages 4 to 12, are recommended by a number of organizations: Boys and Girls Clubs; PAL Centers; homeless shelters, and the North Central Victims Services.
So far, Bradley said, the group has money to treat 125 children, but club members hope to serve twice as many.
The Frontiers is a civic group, similar to the Jaycees. For years, the club has provided college scholarships and mentoring to area teenagers, mainly from Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware counties.
Ernest Jones, president of the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corp., was keynote speaker at the Frontiers' annual awards program last year. Jones also received an award for community service.
As a teenager, Jones received a Frontiers college scholarship in 1962.
"I appreciated it," Jones said this week. "I really do think the Frontiers' largesse and giving me the scholarship helped shaped my own attitudes toward giving back."
Jones, who grew up in North Philadelphia, said the scholarship was a big help when he began at Dickinson College, in Carlisle. "It stuck with me and I've tried where I could to help young kids."
Told that the Frontiers Club needs to raise money for its Christmas shopping trip, Jones said: "I'm going to call Mr. Bradley right now and make a donation."
To help the Philadelphia Frontiers, call 215-242-4304.
Or write to the Philadelphia Club Frontiers International, Inc.; 7715 Crittenden St. #333, Philadelphia, PA 19118.