the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the First Lady at Toys for Tots Service Project

2:01 P.M. EST

      MRS. OBAMA:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  How are you all doing?

      Well, I'd like to start off by thanking the President and the CEO of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Lieutenant General Pete Osman, who has been terrific.  Thank you so much.  We had a wonderful kick-off of our drive at the White House just a couple of weeks ago, but we couldn’t do this without his leadership.  So thank you so much for all that you do.

      I'd also like to recognize Staff Sergeant Sharp, as well as Lieutenant Colonel Woollard, for all the help that they’ve done for today’s event.  You guys are doing a terrific job.  We are so very proud of you.

      The thing that I was saying is that in addition to all the work that you already do, the service that you all do for this country, the fact that you are putting it all out for kids across this country just speaks the world of who you all are as people.  And it really makes us very proud.  So, congratulations once again.

      And of course big thanks to all the volunteers and all the donors, especially our servicemembers’ families who also play a big role in making this happen.  So again, just another tribute to the hard work that the family members of our militaries put into this country, already sacrificing so much but taking time out of their lives to do even more.  Again, we are proud of you and we’re going to be working hard on your behalf in the years to come.  So thank you, guys.

      As you may know, the idea for Toys for Tots actually came from a military family, a Marine reservist and his wife, more than 60 years ago.  And ever since then, military members and their families have made the holidays brighter for millions, and that is millions of kids all across the country.  This is yet again another example of how military families are always ready to do their part for their communities.

      And we’re here today because we want to do our part, as well, as members and staff of the White House.  We’ve been collecting toys from our staff, and today we brought as many as we could fit into one van, but there's more to come because we’re still collecting.  There's still nine days until Christmas, and that's for the press:  Make sure that everyone watching this knows there is still time.  Nine more shopping days!

      And we want to remind everyone that it’s not too late to contribute, and if they haven’t, to do so.  It’s very easy.  All you have to do is visit Toys for Tots, their website, where you can donate a toy online, which is something very new.  So again, you don't even have to move very far to make a donation.  You can go right online or you can find the nearest drop-off center in your community and just drop off an unwrapped toy of any type at the center.

      Now, one of the things we know, and we talked about this last year, is that everyone always wants to do the fun shopping for the little kids.  They want to go down the aisle and get the cute doll and the little cute things.  We like cute things, especially if you don't have kids.

      But what I want people to remember is that -- not to forget the older children, as well, because we’re working with families, with kids as old as 14 years, and we want to make sure that those preteens and tweens have something to open on Christmas, as well.  So we’re particularly looking for items like clothing, books, backpacks, games that make great holiday gifts for young people between the ages of 11 and 14.

      So again, if you’ve already contributed for little kids and you want to make one more shot at it for the bigger kids, we encourage you to do so.  If you haven’t shopped already, make sure you’re thinking about the wide range of a family.  Think of kids from barely walking to already talking back.  (Laughter.)  And think about shopping for them.

      So let’s make sure we all do our part.  We know these are tough economic times for everyone.  But oftentimes when people are struggling, this is the time to reach in and give a little bit more, because anyone who’s struggling, there's always somebody who needs even more of a hand up.  So we’re encouraging the entire country to step up and to make this drive as successful as it’s always been.

      Our office will be standing with this effort as long as we’re in the White House.  And as far as I’m concerned, wherever I go I’m going to be supporting this effort every Christmas.  It is truly a pleasure.  It’s something that our entire family can get involved in.  So it’s not just giving.  You get back, as well.  Taking the time to shop for another family really teaches our kids about the importance of giving in a time when they’re sitting around expecting to get.  So we can teach some great habits, as well.

      But again, we are so proud of you all, not just your service to the country but the example that you set for all Americans.  And it is always a privilege for me to spend time with you all.

      So thank you.  Congratulations.  And I actually am going to do a little work.  I’m going to sort some toys.  So everyone, please have a happy holidays.  And we’ll do a little work.  All right.  (Applause.)

                   END               2:06 P.M. EST