Kids enjoy dressing up for Halloween and collecting mountains of candy—perhaps more than they need. In addition, some households will have surplus candy after the last goblin rings the doorbell. An opportunity is available to unload those excess goodies and support our troops. Your trick-or-treaters may initially balk at the concept; however, once they learn that they can trade candy for cash and help our veterans, they may warm up to the idea.
More than 1,000 dentists across the nation are participating in the Halloween Candy Buy-Back program (HCBB), which has joined forces with the non-profit Operation Gratitude. The program encourages dentists to provide incentives and “buy back” the candy from their young patients. The children receive $1 for every pound of candy they turn in, and the treats collected are shipped by Operation Gratitude to troops serving overseas. Because proactive dentists are involved, toothbrushes and toothpaste are also collected and sent over with the care packages. Since the program’s inception in 2005, more than 130 tons of candy has been collected; in 2013, Operation Gratitude and HCBB shipped their one-millionth package.
Founder Dr. Chris Kammer of Lifetime Family Dentistry in Middleton, Wisconsin, launched the program in 2005 as a way to get candy “off the streets.” In a press release, Dr. Kammer said, “Ditch the candy, that’s what we’re saying. Visiting your dentist twice a year and brushing daily are great preventative measures, but doing away with excess sweets altogether would really give your teeth a health boost.” He added, “Kids can still have all of the fun of trick-or-treating and now their piggy banks will benefit as well.”
In 2012, the American Dental Association (ADA) and PopCap Games announced the results of a new survey targeting trick-or-treating children (ages 5 to 13) in the US. It examined kids’ views and perceptions of Halloween. Approximately 94% of all US children participate in trick-or-treating, and 65% of them consider Halloween the best holiday of the year. However, the survey found that a significant majority of children are primed for changes to the holiday. Among the significant findings: two-thirds of children surveyed agree that they eat too much candy around Halloween; 89% say they would still like the holiday if it was less about candy and more about other types of fun; and 93% would prefer to receive a video game instead of candy while trick-or-treating.
To find a participating dentist in your area, or for more information, click on this link.