In their yellow t-shirts they were easy to spot in the aisles of this Target store - scores of at risk kids who are guests of Frontiers International - one of the nation's oldest African American service clubs. Each small shopper had up to $75 to spend on themselves and or others.
Justino Griggs was shopping for, "...my sister. And I bought her something that she really likes... makeup."
The Frontiersmen have been doing this for years. But this year the group's president, Dr. Gregg Stephens, says money is tight.
Dr. Stephens tells us, "In the past we had gone up to 250 kids. This year we're at 175. We actually only received funding for 120."
To make up the shortfall the group's members reached into their own pockets.
Frontiers International's shopping spree is not the only holiday program feeling the sting of the economy's downturn. With Christmas Eve a week away, bins at the Toys for Tots warehouse should be overflowing. Despite a shot in the arm this week via a donation from Independence Blue Cross, the Marine's signature event is still coming up short.
Ssgt. Marc Palos explains, "Last year around this same time we had already outputted 80,000. And at this stage we're at about 40,000 right now."
The group wants people to know they can donate an unwrapped new toy at many locations including all City of Philadelphia firehouses. If you are thinking of donating a toy the folks at Toys for Tots say it should be sooner rather than later - certainly no later than Monday the 19th.
Every toy needs to be sorted into categories - boys, girls, games, stuffed animals - then the toys have to be turned around and delivered before Christmas, without the help of Santa's Sleigh.
Ssgt. Marc Palos says, "We have to do it the hard way... with the US Marines. That's who Santa Claus calls when he needs help."