Normally, candy and the dentist aren’t two things you’d put together—unless, of course, too much candy lands you in the dentist’s chair. But for several years now, DC dental offices have asked for leftover Halloween candy donations, and it’s not just for the sake of your teeth: the candy is shipped off to the U.S. troops.
While the idea of “too much leftover Halloween candy” may not sound like a problem to some, there are several organizations that provide good incentives to relinquish a few of your Milky Ways.
This organization will literally buy pounds of candy off you (or your kids). Through their online search tool, you can enter your zip code and look up the locations of dentist offices that participate in their program. Next, you can bring the candy to their nearest location and exchange it for cash, toothbrushes or xylitol products, or coupons for foods and services from local businesses. The candy is then packed into care packages (which, yes, include toothbrushes) and mailed to the troops.
Run by Kool Smiles dental offices—which has locations in Northeast DC, District Heights, Takoma Park, and Falls Church—you can bring in excess candy to be redistributed to US military overseas. Through November 4, drop off unopened candy in its original packaging and receive a kid-friendly toy for every 25 pieces donated (with a limit of three toys per child). The candy will then be given to Operation Gratitude, which packages the sweets into care packages for the troops.
Alternatively, you can go through Operation Gratitude’s own candy donation program for deployed troops and first responders. Look up the participating school or dental office near you on their zip code search tool, then drop off your candy so it can be shipped as part of care packages.
This program benefits both the deployed U.S. troops and victims of natural disasters around the globe. Trick or Treat for Disaster Relief is run by Youth Venture, an Arlington-based organization which “supports youth to be change-makers,” in partnership with Operation Gratitude. While the candy will be incorporated into Operation Gratitude’s care packages, the participating doctor and dental offices will also match the candy donations with cash donations to benefit disaster relief organizations. To find a participating office, visit Youth Venture’s website.