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MRS. OBAMA: Well, good afternoon, everyone. It is truly a pleasure, as always, to be here.
I want to start by thanking Lieutenant General Osman for that very kind, gracious introduction. I think the Toys for Tots tradition is really the reason for this success. I'm kind of just glomming on to what has already been established, but you all do the real work and we are grateful to you. Your dedication to not just Toys for Tots, but for -- to this country as well.
And of course, I want to thank all of the Toys for Tots volunteers, many of whom are here -- yay for our volunteers and all the donors, especially our men and women in uniform and their families.
As you all know, Toys for Tots started with a military family -- a Marine reservist and his wife who decided that they wanted to make the holiday just a little bit better for kids in need. And since then, so many Americans -- including so many military families like all of you -- have spent countless hours bringing gifts and holiday cheer and everything else that is wonderful about the holidays to children all across this country.
And this is just one of many examples of how our military families are always going that extra mile to serve our communities and our countries -- I talk about this endlessly. You know I'm working on Joining Forces, but the military families are what inspires my work. Because even though all of you are dealing with your own hardships and challenges and struggles, you're moving from base to base every couple of years; even though you've endured deployment after deployment, the miraculous thing about you all and your spirit is somehow you always are the first people to volunteer for something. It could be as simple as the car pool, or the PTA, or a food pantry, or you're stepping up for a neighbor or friend; family members of your own. But somehow you're always the ones who find the extra hours in the day to give back, above and beyond what life has thrown your way anyway.
And that’s one of the reasons why Jill Biden and I launched Joining Forces several years ago. As many of you already know, Joining Forces is a campaign to rally our Americans to honor, recognize and support our veterans, troops and their families. And we did this because we want you all to know that you make such a tremendous sacrifice and do so much to serve our country, both in and out of uniform, here at home and around the world. And we believe that it is time -- it is always time -- for us to start serving you all as well as you have served us.
The idea behind Joining Forces, as many of you already know, is very simple -- everyone can do something to show their gratitude and to give back. It's the same idea that drives Toys for Tots year after year -- the belief that we all have something to contribute. And I want to be clear that there is still plenty of time for people all across this country to get involved for -- with Toys for Tots.
We are collecting toys at the White House. We brought over boxes and boxes of toys. I'm very proud that the folks at the White House stepped up, and I think we have a larger contribution this year than even before. And I brought as many as I could here with me today, but we're going to keep the drive going and keep sending it over.
And we also have a whole bunch of folks who helped make that happen. We have K'NEX, a corporation who has donated -- the CEO of K'NEX has donated a lot of toys; my husband brought some of them back with him from his visit to the company a couple of weeks ago. So we put in some of those toys as well, and we're thrilled about that donation. And we hope that it inspires people across this country who may be watching this press conference to get into the spirit of giving this holiday season.
And Toys for Tots makes it easy for anyone anywhere to pitch in -- that’s the beauty of this effort. You probably have seen ads on television; I see them all the time. Everywhere you go there is a way that you can donate and be a part of Toys for Tots. You can go to the Toys for Tots website and donate a toy online, which is very easy. Everybody is doing things online, so now you can donate Toys for Tots online. You can look up the nearest location, as we have here, and figure out how to go by and drop off something yourself. It's a great way to get your kids involved by making them collect toys. We have some dresses from Malia and Sasha that they have donated that I've brought along with me. But it's a great way to get kids involved in the spirit.
So collect the toys and have the kids come with you to drop them off at one of the sites. And remember something that I always remind people every year since I've been involved -- that Toys for Tots isn't just for the little ones. A lot of times when we do the shopping we like to reach for the cute little bear or the little doll, but the truth is, is that they also need gifts for older kids as well. And oftentimes, that can be where there is a shortage.
So as you shop for children this year, think about things like books and games, clothing, backpacks -- anything for kids ages 11 to 14, which is why we brought over a lot of clothes. Because if your teens are like mine, they want some clothes, something cute to wear.
So I hope that everyone will do their part, as you have already been doing, to continue the proud tradition that has made Toys for Tots such a very special part of the holiday season. Thank you all. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this. This is one of the best parts of what is oftentimes a very busy holiday season at the White House, but is always so important for me to take out time and come over here personally, deliver our toys, be a part -- as little as I can, as limited as my time is to help sort some toys.
So I want to, again, thank you all. Thank you for the work that you do, not just with Toys for Tots, but our military, our Marines, you all are so awesome. You make us proud. It is the easiest thing in the world to represent you to the rest of this country and around the world.
So thank you for making my job so easy. And on behalf of myself, my husband and our family, I want to wish everyone happy holidays, and a happy and very safe New Year.
And with that, we should get to work, right? All right. Let's sort some toys.