First Lady Michelle Obama debuts the 2009 White House Christmas decorations Dec. 2 in Cross Hall at the White House. She is accompanied by Marines as she promotes the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program. (J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
A cardboard Toys for Tots collection box will take its place among the garlands, wreaths and lights of the White House holiday decorations this year, first lady Michelle Obama announced Dec. 2 before opening the newly festooned rooms to the public.
White House staff will contribute to the Marine Corps Reserve's toy drive, Obama said, and she will deliver them personally to Toys for Tots headquarters in Quantico, Va.
"Over the past year, I've had the privilege of visiting servicemen and women, and their families, all across this country," she said. "And each time I visit a base or meet with members of our armed forces and veterans, I'm struck not just by the extraordinary sacrifices they and their families make to serve our country, but by all they do to help others right here at home in their own communities."
The iconic program has delivered 400 million toys to needy children over the last 62 years.
The need is greater this year than in a long time, said retired Lt. Gen. Pete Osman, president and CEO.
"The economy is such that we expect a huge demand. ... We appeal for the American public to step forward."
And don't put it off, either, he said. There's less than a month until Christmas.