By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia non-profit that grooms young African American men for professional life held it’s fourth annual “Reason for the Season” Saturday.

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Rising Sons brought holiday cheer to 65 homeless families.

The group works with African American men age 18 to 30. They use community service projects to teaching leadership skills and the power of giving back to prepare the young men for professional life.

“It’s a full day of decorating the facility and we do a full extravaganza,” says Alex Peay, founder. “And all of our volunteers are getting professional experience helping us to put on this event.”

Peay says the Rising Sons brought together volunteers from several organizations, including Rising Queens, to the Woodstock Family Center near Woodstock and Norris Streets in North Philadelphia to decorate the shelter with tinsel and snowflakes, make gingerbread cookies and give words of encouragement to dozens of homeless women and their families.

“This is why we call it reason for the season,” says Peay, “this is the reason — to give to those who are less fortunate.”

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“When a lot of them feel abandoned or depressed or left out, you have communities and groups like Rising Sons that bring everybody together,” says Michelle Scott, Woodstocks’ Volunteer Coordinator.

“It makes them have something to look forward to — there’s entertainment, toys for the kids, clothing donations,” says Scott, who notes the holidays are tough for homeless families, but this event makes Christmas memorable for little ones like 9-year-old Shayla Betts.

“I made gingerbread cookies and got my face painted,” she says smiling.

Shayla moved into Woodstock with her mother Theresa and three siblings two months ago.

“It’s nice that they are doing this for kids that have less or who are not as fortunate,” says Theresa.

For more about Woodstock Family Center or to donate toys, call 215-235-5040.

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