WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice presented approximately 5,000 toys to the Marine Corps Dec. 20 at the Harry S. Truman Building following the department’s sixth annual Toys for Tots drive.
About 5,002, unofficially, if counting the impromptu donation by 2-year-old Mathew Wurmser afterward.
“It’s great to see all of those toys,” said Rice, “And because of this generous spirit, you bring a smile to thousands of children who might have gone without a smile on Christmas morning.”
Rice said the State Department’s donation of toys, piled waist-high in a 300-square-foot lobby nook and around the podium where she spoke, surpassed that of every other federal agency this year.
“Maybe I’ll take him home,” joked Rice, holding up a bright-orange, stuffed toy.
Rice recognized the State Department’s special relationship with the Marine Corps in that Marine Security Guard Battalion, based in Quantico, Va., provides Marines to protect U.S. embassies overseas.
The Marine Corps Reserve, which runs the not-for-profit Toys for Tots program, will distribute the new, unwrapped toys to local parents. Approximately 2,000 local children will receive at least two toys each.
Rice lauded Toys for Tots for the exemplary compassion it has shown every year since its 1947 inception: “I think it speaks so well that these men and women in uniform who do the hard tasks around the world also take the time to provide a toy to a child. It says something very special about the American Marine Corps and their partners in diplomatic security.”
The department’s collection, managed by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Uniformed Protection Officers, beat the department’s 2005 effort with a value around $100,000, according to Rice. The bureau managed collection bins at the Truman Building and more than 30 other facilities throughout the D.C. area.
Thanking the State Department on behalf of the Toys for Tots program, Brig. Gen. Robert Milstead, the director for Marine Corps public affairs, said he recently spoke to an active program coordinator and reserve gunnery sergeant who as a little boy received a toy from Toys for Tots.
“That was the genesis of him bettering his life and becoming a United States Marine,” said Milstead. “So you look at this pile … of all these gifts and your generosity, and there’s no telling how you’re going to reach out and how you’re going to influence someone.”
Six Marines representing Marine Security Guard Battalion also attended: Gunnery Sgt. Salvador Perez of Palmdale, Calif.; Sgt. Jason Pittman of Mount Olive, N.J.; Sgt. Kevin D. Prindable of Granite City, Ill.; Cpl. Bryson M. Jones of Washington Court House, Ohio; Cpl. Bruno M. Nascimento of Miami, and Cpl. Ella J. Asuncion of St. Paul, Minn.
Milstead surveyed the toys and seeing a red chopper-style bicycle with flame decals quipped: “I can’t ride the bike; I’m in uniform.”