The Guardian Angels long ago got into volunteerism when lives actually depended upon it. So their help is just what Kensington needs right now.

With a confirmed serial killer on the loose, the New York-based Angels - founded 32 years ago by Curtis Sliwa - launched safety patrols in the shadow of the Frankford El tracks.

The move was in response to the three young women found strangled in the area in recent weeks. If more eyes on the street help Philadelphia police catch the killer, then the Angels' arrival will have helped ease the heightened fear on these mean streets.

The once-bustling neighborhood is now known for drug dealing and prostitution. But the murders have unified residents to share information and tips that might help police make an arrest.

Dozens of residents attended a recent meeting at the Bevilacqua Center on Kensington Avenue to discuss their concerns. That's a positive step towards taking back the neighborhood from low lifes.

The $37,000 reward announced by Mayor Nutter and other officials - including funds donated by the Citizens' Crime Commission, the city police union and City Councilman Frank DiCicco - could prompt witnesses to come forward.

Meanwhile, Sliwa's group is on watch - as they are in Camden, where reduced police staffing is triggering new crime fears. Even if the Angels have been criticized at times for grandstanding, their long record of volunteer safety patrols makes it hard to see their arrival in Kensington as anything other than a cause for hope.