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Michelle Obama at Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive. Pool report.

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Pool report below.....

FLOTUS POOL REPORT #1 - Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots drive - Stafford County Distribution Center - Quantico, Va. - 11:52 p.m. (no kids, grown-ups (a.k.a. elves) only)

The news: First Lady Michelle Obama asks that Americans who haven't yet donated toys but intend to focus on gifts for 11-to-14-year-olds. She said she'd learned that everybody donates good toys for little kids but that right now there aren't enough toys for the older age group. "There's still time," she said, asking her poolers to get out the word. "Focus on some of the older kids." She imagined how underprivileged tweens and young teens might feel: "You're 11; you're still waiting for Santa. . . I'm gonna go back shopping . . . We're going to pick up some more toys for 11-to-14-year-olds."

(Your pooler is including as an attachment to this pool report a gift recommendation list by age group from Toys for Tots, forwarded from FLOTUS staff.... anyone having trouble opening the attachment can contact your pooler for details.)

FLOTUS staff says WH staff has donated 500+ toys so far for the program including board games, Legos, books and a Barbie Corvette toy car. Mrs. Obama said they brought about 30 percent of the WH staff donations so far to Quantico today; other toys are going to a distribution facility in Anacostia. The Obamas have personally donated some toys - no details on what or how many other than that Sasha and Malia helped pick out selections for boys and girls in their own age range.

The Marines began Toys for Tots in 1947, according to another fact sheet. Since then, Marines have distributed more than 400 million toys to more than 188 million children.

The Marines' goal this year at the Quantico base is to collect 150,000 toys to distribute to 75,000 kids. The toys go to underprivileged kids from civilian and military families. As of Dec. 11, a fact sheet said 59, 064 toys had been collected. They will go to nine area Virginia counties.

Color and background: Uneventful motorcade departed WH 11 a.m. sharp, arrived Toys for Tots distribution center 11:45, in a roadside strip mall along Jefferson Davis Highway that also houses warehouse space for Northrop Grumman.
Inside, near the front entrance, there was a decorated Christmas tree surrounded by hundreds of unwrapped gifts, including bicycles, a tricycle, a toy tank, board games, a U.S. Marines special edition Monopoly set, dolls, a kids' basketball hoop and stand, and several red and green Santa-sized sacs.

11:52 a.m. Col. Danny Choike, commanding officer of the Marine Corps Quantico Base, stepped out by the tree along with a woman whom White House staff identified as his wife, Debbie Choike. "This is so exciting," she said, and was tearing up, and which point Choike, dressed in fatigues, warned, "You'll make me cry" and added, "Marines aren't supposed to cry."

Mrs. Obama then emerged, dressed in black and white and lugging a bulging red sac, which was placed by the tree. "It's Christmas, and we brought toys," she said. "We wish everybody a happy holidays, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, everybody out there who's celebrating anything: Happy."

She thanked Marines, spouses and volunteers for their effort, especially in a time of war and economic crisis, and said, "You show America that you can dig even deeper in this time."

"We've tried to do our part at the White House," she said and added that White House staff was still donating and collecting toys.

She toured the warehouse, looking at unwrapped piles of toys for various age groups, and chatted with military members and volunteers about their families and holiday plans, almost entirely out of earshot of your pooler. She also lifted various toys in piles on the floor into bins. And she spoke with Wilma Vaughn, public affairs officer for the Marines' Quantico base, after which she made the comments to pencils and cameras about the need for toys for older kids.

Event ended 12:07. Motorcade returned WH at 12:52. First Dog Bo was out on the lawn, frisking in the cold, and when he saw Mom, he bounded over to her for a long, affectionate rub.

Margaret Talev
McClatchy Newspapers

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 16, 2009 4:04 PM.

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