Maryland Marine Asks First Lady to Marine Corps Ball

Michelle Obama took gifts to Toys for Tots campaign

Friday, Dec 16, 2011  |  Updated 10:54 PM EDT
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Christmas at the White House

AP

The first lady was delivering gifts donated by White House staff to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign when a lance corporal asked her to next year’s Marine Corps Ball.

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A man from Frederick, Md., may have trumped a couple of Marines who invited Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis to Marine Corps balls by asking out the Commander-in-Chief’s wife.

First lady Michelle Obama was delivering more than 800 gifts donated by White House staff to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign Friday when Leeks asked her to be his date at next year’s ball because he's a fan and admires her work to support the military, the Associated Press reported.

As Obama sorted toys and came close to Leeks, he leaned over a toy bin and got her attention. The first lady smiled and called over a staff member as she chatted with Leeks.

“She said she'd love to go,” Leeks said. “Actually, she said I'd need to speak to her husband, too, but she said she'd love to.”

Leeks said he plans to follow up on his invitation. In January, he will be deployed for the first time to Afghanistan but plans to attend the ball when he's home next year.

Obama has supported the Toys for Tots campaign for each of the last three years and urges White House staff to buy gifts to donate. She said they had a 27 percent increase in donations this year.

“It's not too late to donate,” she said. “It's still important to nudge our neighbors to give, give, give.”

She hauled in a big red bag of toys, slung over her shoulder to the Washington military base Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. She wished volunteers a “Merry Christmas” and helped sort toys into bins marked for boy and girls by age group. Obama noted more toys are needed for older children, including books and games.

The toys will be distributed to needy children in the Washington area, organizers said.

Obama said her daughter Malia was impressed to learn that Toys for Tots was started by the Marines.

“You all have given so much to our country, as Malia has recognized, and you just keep giving more,” she said.

Retired Marine Gen. Pete Osman, president and CEO of Quantico, Va.-based Toys for Tots, said Obama is their “No. 1 volunteer,” and he called her commitment to military families “incredible.”

“It sends a big signal to the military,” he said of Obama's support. “When you've got someone like the first lady behind you, how can you go wrong?”

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