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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 22, 2003

Remarks by the President in Visit with Angel Tree Children
Shiloh Baptist Church
Alexandria, Virginia

3:20 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Reverend Lee. Thank you so much for having us here. Lee, thank you very much. Merry Christmas to everybody.

We are so honored to be here to celebrate the Angel Tree Christmas. This is a program in which people who love you a lot want you to have a merry Christmas. And I want to thank Chuck Colson and Mark Earley of the Prison Fellowship program, which has been hosting and organizing the Angel Tree program since 1982. Six million boys and girls have received their gift on Christmas. And I want to thank you very much for doing that. (Applause.)

Our attitude is, I know the Reverend here at Shiloh shares this attitude, that we change America one heart and one soul at a time; that everybody matters, everybody counts; that every child has got a hopeful and bright future; and each of us has a responsibility of loving that child with all our heart and all our soul. And it's important that all of us during this time of -- joyous time, this holiday, recognize that probably the greatest gift you can possibly give is to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.

And that's what we're doing today. We're honoring that call to love and the call to service. And so Laura and I are thrilled that you're here. We look forward to joining the good Reverend here as we pass out some of the gifts to the boys and girls.

REVEREND EARL: Absolutely. And thank you for the gifts that you provided.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. We're honored to be here. (Applause.)

We want to wish you a merry Christmas. And we've got some gifts to give out, don't we, Laura?

MRS. BUSH: Yes, we have a lot of gifts to give out.

THE PRESIDENT: Where do we want to start? Right over here? Okay, good.

END 3:23 P.M. EST

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