"The Phillies have always been great supporters of us," said Ellerby, proudly wearing a red No. 1 Phillies jersey, which the Phillies presented to him before the event began.Ellerby and the FORD PAL run programs that range from computer labs, after-school homework clubs, snack programs and recreational basketball leagues. Many of the children, Ellerby noted, come from broken homes. The Phillies visit made the children realize how close Christmas is. "I tell these kids that if they can survive this area, they can survive anything," Ellerby said. "What the Phillies have done here gives these kids a sense of hope, because a lot of these kids are survivors. For the players to come is an added bonus. They only see players like Ryan Madson and Matt Smith on T.V. For a day, these kids were able to touch them and talk to them. That's a blessing." Christmas came early for On-nir Kendall, D'Ondre Barmes and Lawyan Moore. They each clung to their presents, anxiously waiting to open them. "I'm going to open this when I get home," vowed Kendall, 10, looking at the partially wrapped CD player. For Barmes, meeting the players was a special joy. He attends a number of Phillies games a year. "It was exciting to meet the players," admitted Barmes, whose favorite player is National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Howard. "I knew about this for a week and I couldn't wait." Moore received an early birthday present, since the 12 year old's birthday falls on Christmas. "Christmas is for the family. But this was like Christmas for me, but what made it nice is that it was like Christmas for everyone else, too."
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.