U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called on Philadelphians yesterday to stand behind President Obama and help the nation's economy by volunteering in their communities.

During an appearance at the Police Athletic League's Cozan Center in the Francisville section, Holder told local officials and an audience of young PAL members that youth centers are safe places where participants can learn and thrive.

"Kids have to understand that there are alternatives to the negative things they're exposed to on the streets," he said.

Holder was one of several members of Obama's cabinet, as well as Michelle Obama, who fanned out across the country yesterday to promote United We Serve, a program aimed at increasing volunteerism nationwide this summer.

Holder encouraged those in the audience to act as leaders for younger children and to set positive examples in their communities.

Holder toured the Cozan Center with Mayor Nutter, District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, and a fleet of high-ranking members of the Philadelphia Police Department, including Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who said the city's 27 PAL centers could always use more volunteers.

"It's one thing to serve in the summer, but our kids need support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year," Ramsey said.

PAL officials estimate that Philadelphia's program serves about 26,000 youngsters each year.

Earlier yesterday, Holder and state officials participated in a webcast among 14 Pennsylvania counties announcing the Get Help Now initiative, which will address unemployment, foreclosure, and credit card debt.

Holder took part in the webcast from Philadelphia School District headquarters on North Broad Street. Gov. Rendell and his wife, U.S. District Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, signed in from Harrisburg, as did numerous Bar Association governors and banking leaders throughout the state.

Get Help Now will donate legal and financial consulting on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 6 p.m. at locations throughout the state, starting July 7. The Philadelphia location is the Earl Mack School of Law at Drexel University, 3320 Market St., Suite 432. The program runs through Sept. 11.

"This involves people in their professions, but acting as neighbors helping neighbors," Marjorie Rendell said.

Also launched yesterday was Serve.com, which hosts an online resource where people can advertise and find local volunteer opportunities.

Contact staff writer Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or asteele@phillynews.com.