(CNN) — Melania Trump continued a holiday tradition on Wednesday, visiting with military families and sorting gifts at a Toys for Tots event at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, where she delivered a reflective message on her initial year as first lady.
“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. After this year’s devastating hurricane season, I hope everyone watching at home will consider giving back through programs like Toys for Tots,” she said, delivering brief remarks at a podium surrounded by wrapped holiday gifts and children’s bikes.
“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,” she added.
Trump has been a front-and-center figure for her husband’s administration in the wake of the multiple devastating hurricanes this year, accompanying President Donald Trump on trips to Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico, and last week, viewing recovery and relief efforts in Texas’ Corpus Christi area with second lady Karen Pence. She also recorded a public service announcement encouraging Americans to donate to organizations of their choice or volunteer in storm-ravaged areas.
On Wednesday, the first lady decorated holiday cards and sorted donated toys with the children of service members as part of the Marine Corps Reserve’s annual Toys for Tots drive.
As Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and other Christmas classics played, Trump and the children carried stuffed animals, action figures, dolls and games, placing them into oversized boxes marked “Boy,” “Girl” and “Toddler.” Trump bent down to help some of the littlest helpers sort their toys as one small boy carried a teddy bear bigger than himself to one of the bins.
Trump, who has made visits with children a hallmark of her public appearances during her tenure, animatedly exchanged hugs and high-fives and posed for photos with the children before moving to a card-decorating station.
Dressed in a festive green coat, she lifted one little girl carrying a marker onto her lap as the children colored holiday cards, admiring their work.
“Merry Christmas!” she said. “What is your wish?”
Then-first lady Michelle Obama also visited the base for each of the eight years her husband was in office.
Trump’s holiday message this year: it’s “not about gifts.”
“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,” she said.
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