President Obama visits Boys & Girls Club in Northeast D.C.

By Garance Franke-Ruta
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

President Obama swung by the Richard England Clubhouse and Community Center in Northeast Washington on Monday to deliver cookies and holiday cheer and to read aloud from the award-winning Christmas tale "The Polar Express."

The president spent about 25 minutes at the facility, a Boys & Girls Club, according to a pool report. He arrived with cookies in the shape of the first dog, Bo; gingerbread men; maple leaves; and Christmas trees for the 27 children at the club.

The president, who frequently delivers a values message when interacting with children, asked the clubhouse members what they wanted for Christmas and exhorted them to remember that the holiday is about more than gifts. The president seemed surprised when the children told him they wanted electronics under the tree this year.

"Whatever happened to, like, asking for a bike?" he asked the children. "Everybody has a bike," one child responded.

When one child said he wanted a cellphone, Obama responded, "Who you gonna call?"

"Everyone," the student answered.

Obama told the children that Christmas represents not only the birth of Jesus but also "the possibility of peace" and people treating each other with respect. He related the biblical story of the three wise men and their visit to the manger to pay their respects to the infant Jesus.

Niko Letterbough, 7, gave the president T-shirts for his daughters on behalf of the group and then challenged Obama to a game of foosball.

"You know, I hate getting beat," the president said.

"I'll let you win," Letterbough said. They fist-bumped.

"That's what I'm talking about," Obama said.

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