WASHINGTON, DC — Military children welcomed First Lady Melania Trump to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling to make cards and sort Toys for Tots Christmas gifts.
Lieutenant General Rex McMillan, Commanding General Marine Forces Reserve (USMCR), opened the event with kind words for the first lady and offered a brief history of Toys for Tots.
In 1947 Major Bill Hendricks of the USMCR returned home from WWII. Hendricks’ wife Diane gave him a Raggedy Ann doll and an order, to gather his Marine Corps Reserve friends, collect toys, and hand them out to children in southern California who are less fortunate. He said that year Hendricks and his friends gathered around 3,000 gifts. Through Christmas 2016 the organization had gathered around 550 million toys, distributing them to about 250 million children. Their goal for 2017 — seven million toys for 3-4 million children across the United States.
Mrs. Trump addressed the children and their families just before joining in to sort gifts with them. She thanked McMillian, on behalf of herself and her husband, President Donald Trump, for the men and women serving in the military and keeping the country safe.
She went on to emphasize her support for the great work that Toys for Tots does for children nationwide.
First lady Melania Trump then offered a personal note as her “first year as first lady comes to an end. I have had the privilege to witness the spirit and resilience of so many people in our country.” She spoke of the devastating hurricanes that have ravaged the U.S. and her hope that people will give back to programs like Toys for Tots.
She recalled not only for the children and their parents, but for any watching from home:
I’ve seen people from all over our great nation pitch in to help those who lost everything and I want to challenge people to continue with that giving spirit over Christmas and in New Year. It is my hope that during this holiday season people will remember it is not about gifts, it’s about family, service, and gratitude.
#Repost @abcworldnewstonight ・・・ GOOD TIDINGS: At a United States @marines Toys for Tots event in Washington, DC, first lady Melania Trump met with children and challenged Americans to embrace the holiday spirit for the good of others. "It's about family, service and gratitude," @flotus said. #toy #tot #toysfortots #marines #marine #dc #christmas #holiday #gift #children #kids #charity #service #volunteer #worldnewstonight
The first lady has traveled with husband President Trump twice, and recently with second lady Karen Pence, to visit hurricane victims, help with recovery efforts, and meet with first responders in Texas.
After thanking all of those involved in Toys for Tots and wishing the crowd a Merry Christmas, she asked the children who wanted to help sort toys? Hands rushed in the air and the group followed the first lady to toy-filled tables where they all joined in sorting them into boxes for girls, boys, and toddlers. She stopped often to chat with individual children and spent some time talking with Lt. Gen. McMillian.
As the sorting came to completion, Mrs. Trump joined some of the children at tables where they were decorating cards to accompany the toys. She took up one of the little girls, placed her in her lap, and sat at the table, admiring the children’s creations.
The first lady posted photos of the event to her social media accounts along with her thanks to Toys for Tots and their work for children, as well as wishes for a Merry Christmas:
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) December 13, 2017
Before leaving the event, Mrs. Trump visited and shook hands with military families. One young man reached out and shook the first lady’s hand and a little girl embraced Mrs. Trump for a hug just before she took her leave.
The gifts sorted at the event will be distributed in the Washington, D.C. area, according to the first lady’s office.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana