Recycle Your Sweets: Halloween Candy Give-Back Programs


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Do you feel like your home has just been hit with a tsunami of candy? And it’s not even the 31st?! These days trick-or-treating starts early! From mall-o-weens to community trunk-or-treats, at every turn there is an opportunity to grab the sweet stuff before it’s even Halloween. But while your kids count their loot, you’re counting future cavities. Does anyone really need this much sugar? Share the love–and the sugar high–by donating some of that treasure trove of chocolate and sweet goodness. Send a care package to troops overseas, give to ill children who weren’t able to knock on doors in search of candy or celebrate Dental Hygiene Month (October) at a dental office’s Halloween candy buyback program. Kick off the 2019 holiday season with a spirit of giving at these places in and around the DMV.

photo: Hey, It’s Candy! via Yelp

Operation Gratitude
This organization hand-delivers donated candy to First Responder departments in 20 cities. They also package and mail candy to troops.  Find a drop-off location near you at this website or organize a candy collection drive of your own. Note: Include handwritten notes and drawings to really sweeten the package.


photo: Brennon H. via Yelp

Soldiers’ Angels Treats for Troops
Consider organizing collections at your place of work or drop off your excess candy at a nearby business. To get a sense of what you’d be part of, consider that Soldiers’ Angels has sent nearly 880,000 packages to service members, veterans, wounded heroes and military families over the past 16 years. 


photo: Young Champions via Yelp

Operation Stars and Stripes’ Operation Trick-or-Treating for the Troops
You know it and I know it: You’ll be drowning in candy. Your friends and neighbors probably will be too. So plan ahead and sponsor a drive to collect extra candy to send to the troops. Here are some other items topping troops’ wish list that you can stick in the package: postage stamps, Ziploc bags (gallon and quart size), new DVDs, new CDs, unscented wet wipes, pistachios and beef jerky.


photo: Juushika Redgrave via Flickr 

Operation Shoebox
Founded in 2003 by a mom of five children and two sons-in-law who served in the military, this organization sends 800 to 1,000 care packages per week. Add some of your Halloween candy to them. FYI: Operation Shoebox collects candy year-round, so you don’t have to wait for Oct. 31.


8152822679_68b1038778_zphoto: clappstar via Flickr

Germantown Dental Service
A number of local orthodontist, dentists and other local businesses offer creative exchanges (think stickers, toothbrushes and glow sticks) for all things sugar. Your candy is shipped off to the troops, while your kiddo is gifted a non-cavity forming treat. Germantown Dental Services has been a proud supporter of the Buy Back program.


photo: Pixabay

Halloween Candy Buy Back 
To find a lengthy list of more locations paying kids off for their Halloween candy, check out this website: Be sure to contact the location you plan to visit because each office has its own deadlines and drop-off times.


—Stephanie Kanowitz and Meghan Yudes Meyers


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