WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The annual Marine Toys for Tots Foundation's sorting event, hosted on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB), was jump-started by a familiar guest, first lady Michelle Obama, Dec. 9.
Retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Henry P. (Pete) Osman, president and CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, introduced Obama, who was attending the event for the seventh straight year. She stressed the importance of the work Toys for Tots has conducted throughout its existence, and what that work has meant to underprivileged children throughout the world.
"Once again, through Toys for Tots, you all are getting it done, and you're doing it by spending countless hours making the holidays so much brighter for so many children across the country. And it takes a lot of hard work to get this done," said the first lady. "In fact, since Toys for Tots started, as he [Osman] mentioned, you all have distributed more than 490 million toys to over 200 million children in all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. Let's just stop for a moment and think about that. What an amazing impact you all have had over these years. And think about what that means; the millions of moments of joy and gratitude that you all are responsible for because of the work you do."
The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.
Marine Corps Lt. Col. David A. Johnson, site commander for the Anacostia Marine Reserve Training Center, said the visit from the first lady and Osman helped raise awareness of the campaign on a national and local level, but the real highlight of this campaign for him will be the distribution event.
"Next week is really the highlight because we'll be out at [Robert F. Kennedy Memorial] Stadium and distributing all the toys that we've gathered throughout the region," said Johnson. "So it will be about 70,000 to 80,000 toys, and we will have all the kids and the families come, and that's where you see all your work come together."
The event leads up to the distribution process that runs from Monday, Dec. 14, through Saturday, Dec. 19, at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C.
"It's a great opportunity, and it's a privilege and an honor to be a part of this program," said Johnson.
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