August 4

A Special Holiday: Inspired Through Loss

If I didn’t already know that where I was standing was a living room, then I definitely wouldn’t have figured it out that night. The floor was covered from the entrance to the back exit – but not with trash.

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It was Christmas Eve night, and the clock had just struck 10PM. Every year on Christmas Eve, our family gathers at my mother’s house to open Christmas gifts. However, we all knew that this year’s tradition would be a special one.

My sisters, mother and I had all decided that we’d sponsor a family in need for the holiday in honor of my deceased brother, George L. Phillips, Jr. (Pokey).

Who is Pokey, and how did he die?

Pokey was the youngest son of George and Patricia Phillips, born October 2, 1986 in the dirty south: Clarksdale, Mississippi. He graduated top of his high school class in 2006 and later began his career as a barber. Pokey was well known for his gifted hands, as he participated in many art competitions, his melodic voice and his unforgettable dance moves. Aside from being an undeniably great son, brother and friend, he was a phenomenal father to his baby girl, Aijia; but most importantly, he was a firm believer in God.

On Aug. 14, 2012 around 4AM, my brother was found sitting alongside his apartment complex near Wells and North 29 street in Milwaukee, Wis. Unfortunately, he suffered from several fatal gunshot wounds, and God called him home.

When Loss Brings Blessings

Justice has yet to be served for Pokey’s murder; however, four years later, rather than mourning his loss any longer, we decided that we wanted to keep his name alive in a positive manner.

As cliché as it sounds, my brother was one of a kind. He’d give the shirt off his back if he had

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George “Pokey” Phillips (left), Herb (right) on Christmas Eve in 2010.

to, literally.

In 2010, when my parents and I resided in Mississippi, Pokey came home from Milwaukee for the Christmas holiday with a complete stranger who went by the nickname, Herb, whom he had befriended. Herb’s family lived in another city at the time, and he had nowhere to go for the holiday, so Pokey invited him along for a 12-hour trip to spend the day with our family.

Thinking of my brother’s kind heart and free spirit led us to the idea of sponsoring a family for Christmas. Dec. 24, 2016 marked the beginning of our family’s new holiday tradition.

Several months before the holiday, my sisters and I made posts via social media informing the public that families in need should send us an email stating some of their background and why they would like to be chosen.

After receiving only one submission the first year, we were able to put a huge smile on the face of an 8 year old boy.

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On Nov. 26, Robinson provided the following wish list for her son:

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Two of our sponsored child’s favorite gifts. Christmas Eve 2016

Christmas Eve night, my sister, mother and I were able to provide both XBOX games NBA and WWE 2K15, black ACG boots, a remote control truck and a new outfit from Burlington Coat Factory. The smile of Robinson’s son really brightened the room, and he was ecstatic.

“We are so thankful. You guys ROCK!” Robinson posted on her private social media account later that night.

On Christmas Day, our very first sponsored child wore his new outfit and ACG boots. Robinson said that her son had not stopped smiling since the day before.

The joy we brought to Robinson’s family inspired us to continue the new tradition the following year, praying that we’d be able to bring such happiness to another family. But that year, the reaction we received was much more than we’d anticipated.

Stay tuned to read about our second sponsored family whom we’ll never forget!