First lady hopes giving spirit continues through holidays

First lady hopes giving spirit continues through holidays

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Melania Trump said Wednesday at a holiday toy drive sponsored by the military that she hopes the giving spirit that Americans displayed during a season of devastating hurricanes will continue over Christmas and into the new year.

She said the holidays are about family, service and gratitude — not gifts.

The first lady accompanied President Donald Trump on several trips to survey hurricane damage in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and he has said she was deeply affected by what she saw. Last week, the first lady returned to Corpus Christi, Texas, with Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, to follow up on recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey flooded the region in late August.

"On a personal note, as my 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," Mrs. Trump said during brief remarks at the drive for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. "After this year's devastating hurricane season, I hope everyone watching at home will consider giving back through programs like Toys for Tots."

She recalled her visits to survey hurricane damage and urged people to extend their generosity.

"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 the new year," the first lady said inside a warehouse at a Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.

"It is my hope that during this holiday season people will remember it is not about gifts. It is about family service and gratitude. We must continue to look out for and help each other," Mrs. Trump said.

She then invited several dozen children from military families to help her sort toys. Within minutes, they cleared a large table that had been stacked with dolls, board games, toy cars and trucks, and other items, depositing them into large bins labeled "Boy," ''Toddler" and "Girl."

The first lady and one young girl exchanged a high-five after Mrs. Trump guided her to the bins. She also sat with kids and made construction-paper cards to go with the gifts that will be distributed throughout the Washington area.

Since its inception in 1947 and through last Christmas, Toys for Tots has distributed 550 million toys to 250 million children across the country, said Lt. Gen. Rex McMillan. The goal this year is to collect about 7 million toys for between 3 million and 4 million kids, he said.


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