Jill Biden sorts donated toys with military children for annual holiday event

First Lady Jill Biden sorted donated toys with children of service members on Friday at Arlington National Cemetery, participating in the annual Toys for Tots event for the first time.

The event at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall included over 30 children and the first lady, who read part of ‘The Grinch’ to the group and called on them as they told her what Christmas meant to them and what they wanted for the holiday.

All first ladies since Laura Bush have participated in the Toys for Tots event, according to David Cooper, vice president of operations at the Toys for Tots Foundation. The event on Friday aligned with Biden’s focus on military families.

“Military children serve too, and the president and I thank you for your service to the country, and that goes to all military kids,” Biden said to the group of children, who sat on the floor in front of her while their parents sat on bleachers.

“Merry Christmas!,” she said. “Now how many of you know this book? Wow, everybody knows this book,” she continued, holding up ‘The Grinch.’ “A few years ago, I might have dressed up as the Grinch for a White House staff event when I was Second Lady.”

She read an excerpt ending with, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” Departing from the book’s text, she then added that what makes Christmas special is not what comes from packages, boxes and bags.

As Biden was speaking, children shot their hands up to comment. One young girl who she called on said Christmas is about family time and worshipping God.

“I love that, that’s beautiful, thank you,” Biden said.

“Kindness, sharing, generosity, and service. These are the gifts that you’re all giving together,” the first lady said. “For military kids like you, service is who you are. Just like your parents.” 

Biden joined the children as they put gifts into boxes to sort them for boys’ and girls’ donations.

After the sorting, she asked the children what they wanted for Christmas and was told a skateboard, Legos, a pink teddy bear and a drone, among other items.

“Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Merry Christmas!” Biden said and the children applauded, along with their parents on the bleachers.

“They’re going to have a very happy holiday,” Biden said, when asked by a reporter if Americans can have a happy holiday with the COVID-19 Omicron variant and inflation.

Biden last week unveiled her White House holiday decor and her theme for the season, “Gifts from the Heart,” which included a wing dedicated to gifts of service with a lit-up tree decorated with star ornaments with the names of Gold Star service members on it.

Tags First Lady Jill Biden military families The Grinch Toys for Tots

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