I especially want to thank Lieutenant General Osman for his leadership at this critical time, when so many families are facing economic challenges and need the extra help that you are providing this Christmas season. This joint effort between the State Department and the Marine Corps is a shining example of our special relationship with the Marines. After all, the Marines help protect our embassy staff in more than 133 countries, and as I travel around the world, I am always privileged to thank the Marines who are there doing the work that we need them to do.
And I also, as I have said, want to highlight the work of the Diplomatic Security’s uniformed protective officers. They, after all, coordinated and organized this massive operation. Because of you and your colleagues, we have nearly 3,000 toys to deliver to 1,500 children, and I think that deserves a round of applause. (Applause.)
Now, Toys for Tots took shape the way many great philanthropic organizations do – with one small act of kindness that then multiplied and amplified itself over the years. During the holidays in 1947, Colonel Hendricks, at the urging of his wife, went out looking for a charity so he could give his wife’s homemade doll to a needy child. He soon realized that an organization like that didn’t exist, so he started Toys for Tots with the support of the Marine Corps, and it soon caught on and expanded nationwide. So over the last years, Toys for Tots has given more than 400 million toys to nearly 200 million needy children, and I think that is such a great tribute to the inspiration that one man and his wife provided for so many to follow.
And the State Department is proud to be part of this rich tradition. It’s a testament to the generosity of our employees that we are on track to donate the most of any agency for the 11th straight year. And our work may take us to over 180 countries around the world, but for many of us the D.C. region is either the permanent home or the home you return to. It’s where kids of employees go to school, where husbands, wives, parents, siblings work. And helping people out is really part of our DNA, whether they live in Angola or Anacostia, because a child’s joy is universal.
So thanks again to everyone who donated, volunteered, and labored on this project. Once again, we’re going to have a lot of happy smiles on children’s faces because of all of you. So thank you, and I think we’re going to go down now and stand in front of this great display of toys and have a picture. And I’d love it if we could also get the representatives of the Uniformed Division and some Marines in that picture too, Eric. So thank you all very much. (Applause.)