Recycle your Halloween candy for a worthy cause

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
obesity epidemic, Halloween candy, support our troops, cash rebate
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Do you have sacks of candy amassed by your children last evening? Now that one’s kids have had the fund of traipsing around the neighborhood in their costumes while collecting the treats, many parents would prefer that this hoard of calorie-loaded, cavity-producing material could be whisked out of the house. After all, we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic that includes US children. An opportunity is available to donate this candy to a worthy cause—and receive cash in return.

Although dental cavities generate revenue for dentists, more than 1,000 dentists across the US are shunning that extra business. They are participating in the Halloween Candy Buyback program, which is run by the non-profit Operation Gratitude, based in Van Nuys, California. The buy-back program offers children the opportunity to swap their extra Halloween candy for cash or coupons. Operation Gratitude will then send those candies, together with other items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, to troops overseas. Although troops deployed overseas have many concerns that trump the risk of cavities, the toothbrushes and toothpaste should minimize that risk. Some dentists are also “sweetening” the deal by offering more than just money. Fox News reported that one San Marcos dentist, Dr. Niray Shah of Dreamscape Dental, will also enter candy-trading children into a drawing for awesome prizes such as a new iMac or iPad. He said, “It’s mostly to help with promoting health. I don’t really anticipate generating much business out of it.”

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Program details:

  • Participating dentists “buy” back kids’ Halloween candy at a scheduled event.
  • “Buy” with cash, coupons, toothbrushes, creative exchanges - They can partner with local businesses to give away coupons for food, services, goods, etc. They can give away the Hygiene Kits, they can set up an Opportunity Prize¬¬––each kid gets a ticket per pound of candy for an opportunity drawing to win special prizes, etc.
  • Dentists send the candy to Operation Gratitude or other Military support groups.
  • Operation Gratitude sends the candy to U.S. Military deployed in harm’s way.
  • To find a dental practice in your area, use the zip code “look-up” feature to see if there is a dental office participating close by. SUGGESTION: Call the practice before driving over with your Halloween candy as many have concluded their buyback event and are no longer accepting candy.

Advantages of joining Halloween Candy Buyback:

  • You will enjoy peace of mind knowing you’re making kids, parents, and Service Members smile.
  • You will set a great example for the next generation to give back.
  • You will also enjoy some great publicity.


The 100,000 Toothbrush Challenge:

Operation Gratitude asks for your help to send a toothbrush in every troop’s care package. For every pound of candy you send to the troops, Operation Gratitude will also send a toothbrush. The goal is to see how quickly 100,000 toothbrushes can be collected.

To find local dentists participating in Halloween Candy Buyback, click on this link.

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