Have extra Halloween candy...here are some places you can donate treats:
Operation Gratitude sends care packages to U.S. troops stationed overseas and first responders stateside. It collects hundreds of thousands of pounds of candy annually. The organization's mission is simple: to put a smile on soldiers' faces. The website contains important shipping info for the Halloween Candy Give-Back, and kids are encouraged to include letters and pictures. You can also check out the organization's map for drop-off locations. In 2018, Operation Gratitude launched a new initiative to give back to first responders closer to home and hopes to expand those efforts this year. Interested in pitching in and hand-delivering candy to your local fire department or police station? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with "I want to volunteer" in the subject line to sign up.
Halloween Candy Buyback Program
Visit this site to search for a participating dentist near you who will accept candy donations in exchange for a small reward for the kids, such as toothbrushes, coupons, and sometimes cash. Important note: It's imperative you call ahead. Many dentists set certain buyback rules, like a maximum amount of candy, or specific drop-off hours. Get the details before you go!
Similar to Operation Gratitude, but smaller in scale, Soldiers' Angels organizes Treats for Troops annually. Visit the website to find a Halloween candy donation drop-off point, or register to start a drive of your own.
Ronald McDonald House Charities
The Ronald McDonald House helps keep severely ill kids and their parents together during treatment. After Halloween, most locations accept donations of unopened candy for the families being served. You can search for your local chapter on the website but call ahead to find out the rules for dropping off candy.
Operation Stars and Stripes
Founded in 2001 in memory of a Vietnam War hero, this all-volunteer nonprofit supports service members at home and abroad with care packages and letters. Packages of unopened candy can be sent to the organization's Georgia headquarters. Specific shipping info can be found on the website.
Operation Shoebox and Any Soldier
These are two more organizations that collect and send care packages and donate Halloween candy to troops overseas. Operation Shoebox accepts individually wrapped candies all year long. Meanwhile, Any Soldier allows you to search soldiers' wish lists and send donations to them directly.
Finally, don't forget about your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, food pantry, or retirement or nursing home when thinking of where to donate Halloween candy. Many take donations of unopened candy for residents and guests year-round. It's worth calling to find out if they accept treats, which your kids can deliver with a note and a non-cavity-filled smile.