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December 25, 2015

Jim Kenney brings homeless boy to White House Christmas party

Mayor-elect shows kindness, Christmas spirit in D.C. visit to meet President Obama

Community Christmas
122515_KennyTalanObama Contributed Art/Facebook

President Barack Obama greets 9-year-old Talan Brooks, a homeless Philadelphia boy taken to the White House Christmas party as a guest of Philadelphia mayor-elect Jim Kenney.

Philadelphia mayor-elect Jim Kenney is quite possibly the busiest individual in the city as he and his administration prepare to take the helm in City Hall's Room 215 on January 4.

Still, the locally raised politician found it in his heart to spend time with a vulnerable resident of Philadelphia, not just at the park or at school, but in Washington, D.C. at a White House Christmas party.

When Kenny paid a visit to Jay Cooke Elementary School in the Logan section of the city on December 3 to announce a new youth basketball center, two volunteers in the after-school program intercepted him on the way out, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. They pleaded with the mayor to help out 9-year-old Talan Brooks, a homeless boy whose mother was having no luck finding a shelter to live in for the holidays.

Kenney got in touch with Talan's mother, Erika, who explained that after losing a rental property when the building sold in 2012, she had to rely on her struggling sister and friends for help. Kenney's aide, Mikecia Witherspoon, located a shelter in South Philadelphia where Talan and Erika could stay until March.

Then Kenney, a single man, got an invitation to the White House with a plus one. Witherspoon suggested taking Talan to meet President Obama and Kenney was on board.

As part of the trip, Talan experienced his first ever Amtrak ride, chowed down on White House cookies and marveled at more than 50 lit Christmas trees arranged for the celebration. The pair was even given front row seats for the president's remarks. Though Kenney never formally publicized the trip, he tweeted several pictures during the party.

Toward the end of the evening, Kenney and Talan shared a moment with President Obama, photographed with the mayor-elect's cellphone by an obliging Texas judge.

Despite the challenging road ahead for the Brooks family, Erika described it as an opportunity of a lifetime for her son and one she hopes he will never forget as he moves forward. For an occasion as special as Christmas, she can probably rest assured it will stick with Talan as a true example of generosity.