Dentists Love Halloween Too
As Halloween approaches, trick-or-treaters excitedly anticipate all the candy they will gather. While brushing twice a day and visiting the dentist every six months are preventive measures, children’s teeth also benefit by limiting the candy they consume. This Halloween the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) encourages children to donate some of their candy to the Halloween Candy Buyback Program.
Participating dentists “buy” unopened Halloween candy from neighborhood kids at a scheduled event. They purchase candy with cash, coupons, toothbrushes, and other goody bags. Once the candy is collected, it is shipped to a nonprofit organization called Operation Gratitude, based in California. From there, volunteers fill care packages, address each with an individual soldier’s name, and send them to our troops overseas.
Each year, the number and size of care packages increases with the growing interest and participation in the program. In the program’s 10th year, it is projected that Operation Gratitude will send 60,000 care packages.
“This is our first year participating in the Candy Buyback program and we are so very excited,” says Dr. Sara Gotwalt, a PDA member from Lititz. Her office will be collecting donations on November 4 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., in exchange for a monetary compensation of $1/lb and a ticket for a prize drawing.
Dr. Gotwalt says, “If a child can gain the knowledge that this isn’t about candy—though let’s face it, candy makes everyone happy—but about gratitude and letting someone know that they are thought about and appreciated for what they do for us, then we as a dental practice and as people have accomplished what we wanted.”
Currently, global sugar consumption for kids is at 50 million tons per year. Sugar is the fuel that causes tooth decay, which is the most common chronic disease in children. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable. PDA encourages parents to be mindful of the amount of candy their children consume and be aware of the damage too much candy can do to young teeth.
PDA member Dr. Jeffrey Eby of Akron, said last year they were not fully prepared as first-time participants in the program. This year they strategized and got the word out early to encourage more community members to partake in their Candy Buyback on November 1 – 8 during normal business hours.
The benefit to children and their parents is clear. The program provides an outlet to get rid of excess candy in an enjoyable way while benefiting others in the process.
“The candy is just one part of extensive care packages sent to our troops to help lift morale and show our thanks for their service,” said Dr. Eby. “Children benefit by learning about and improving their dental health, by participating in a charitable event, and by having fun and earning cash!”
The Halloween Candy Buyback Program teaches children about service and giving back. Our men and women in uniform especially enjoy receiving packages from home during the holidays. 2012 proved to be another record-breaking year as 127.5 tons of candy were collected. Halloween candy is a visible reminder of home. They realize that children back home are thoughtful enough to donate candy to show their support.
To add a special touch to the care packages, Dr. Gotwalt is asking children to write a short note to accompany their donations.
Participants in the program are encouraged to contribute additional items for the care packages other than candy, such as toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste. As a continuation from last year, participants are asked to join the challenge and contribute in helping to collect a total of 100,000 toothbrushes to send to the troops. Operation Gratitude welcomes extra items such as commercially-sealed lip balm, energy or protein bars, small packages of beef jerky, DVDs and CDs, hand-knit scarves and hats, dark-colored socks, and small stuffed animals.