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‘Big elf’ Obama helps deliver gifts to Toys for Tots

WASHINGTON — Introducing himself as the “big elf,” President Barack Obama on Wednesday exclaimed “Ho, Ho, Ho” and made merry as he delivered a pair of giant red sacks filled with toys and other gifts to the Marine Corps’ annual Toys for Tots campaign.

First lady Michelle Obama has been the traditional bearer of the gifts, which have been donated annually by White House staffers. But this time she decided to bring a pair of extra hands to the Washington military base where the unwrapped toys are collected. They brought about 1,000 items.

“I’m the big elf,” Obama said as he introduced himself. He thanked the Marine Corps for starting the annual toy drive in the 1940s. Since then, the Toys for Tots campaign has distributed more than 469 million toys to more than 216 million less fortunate children, Obama said.

“That’s a lot of dollhouses, that’s a lot of Ninja Turtles,” he said.

Before the Obamas got to work sorting the toys into boxes according to age and whether a particular item was for a boy or a girl, Mrs. Obama joked that the president might have a hard time sorting the gifts, saying he doesn’t do much shopping.

“We’ll watch him closely to see if he can figure out which ones are girls, zero to two, or unisex,” she said.

Obama said he was “positive” that the “Call of Duty” video game was perfect for girls, zero to two. “Isn’t that right?” he asked Mrs. Obama.

The joke was lost on the first lady, who confessed: “I wasn’t listening.”

JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press

Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.