By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A commitment to volunteerism is bringing together presidents past and present.
Former President George H.W. Bush is coming to the White House on Monday for a ceremony President Barack Obama is holding to recognize the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award. Created by Bush more than two decades ago to honor volunteer service, the award's name comes from the description in his 1989 inaugural address of Americans serving each other as "a thousand points of light."
Bush's wife, Barbara, the former first lady; their son Neil, and other relatives are expected to attend; son and former President George W. Bush is not. Also scheduled to attend is Michelle Nunn, CEO of the Points of Light organization and a possible Democratic Senate candidate from Georgia. She's the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga.
Both presidents share a commitment to volunteerism and service.
Bush, now 89, established the Daily Point of Light Award while in office in 1990. More than 1,000 of the awards were distributed between 1989 and 1993, Bush's single term as the nation's 41st president. Through its offices around the country and relationships with nonprofit groups and corporations, the Points of Light organization encourages millions of people to volunteer and recognizes those who are making a difference.
The recipient of the 5,000th Point of Light Award is to be announced Monday, before the White House ceremony.
Obama also has made volunteerism a theme of his presidency. In 2009, he signed legislation to more than triple the size of the AmeriCorps national service program from 75,000 volunteers to 250,000 by 2017. And several times a year, including on the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday and before Thanksgiving, Obama and his family help out at area food kitchens and community service projects.
First lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden's wife, Jill, also lead a national drive to encourage the public to devote time to helping military families.
The first president Bush has made several visits to the Obama White House. He and son Jeb, the former Florida governor, stopped by in January 2012 when they were in town for the annual Alfalfa Club dinner, and then in May for the unveiling of George W. Bush's official portrait. During a White House ceremony in 2011, Obama recognized Bush's lifetime of public service with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The two last saw each other in April at the dedication of George W. Bush's presidential library in Dallas.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama holds the Bush family in "very high regard" and is looking forward to the ceremony.
Another reason to look forward to the event? To see Bush's socks.
The 41st president has become known for brightening his otherwise staid attire by wearing colorful socks. He pulled on a pair of Superman socks to celebrate his 89th birthday last month. At the dedication of his son's presidential library, Bush set off his gray suit with pink socks.
Points of Light: http://www.pointsoflight.org
White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov
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