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Dentist suggests donating excess Halloween candy to the troops

Operation Gratitude puts together care packages for service members overseas.
Halloween candy

SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) — Want to make your dentist happy? Donate leftover candy to the troops.

With the kids bagging a lot of candy on Halloween, and your household likely to have a surplus following visits from trick-or-treaters, a central Illinois dentist has a suggestion for how to handle all that sugar.

Prairie Dental Group Dentist Dr. Tanya DeSanto for years has been helping organize a candy donation drive for Operation Gratitude, which puts together care packages for service members overseas.

“They put together toiletries and all the necessary things that these soldiers need along with some American Halloween candy,” DeSanto said. “Just a little taste of home for them.”

“We include a handful of candy in every Care Package we send,” the organization said in an online post. “A major source of these sweet treats is our popular Halloween Candy Give-Back Program hosted by generous dentists, businesses, groups, and families in October and November each year.”

DeSanto said it’s great for the heroes serving overseas, but also great for dentists who want to get that candy away from developing teeth.

“There’s too much candy, oh my goodness,” DeSanto said. “You can let the kids enjoy a couple of pieces a day. Put a couple in their lunch to send to school. Let them have the thrill of the moment but get it out of the house, goodness.”

Bulk candy distributor CandyStore.com said over the past 11 years Illinois consumed over 169,000 pounds of Kit Kat, 137,000 pounds of Sour Patch Kids and over 91,000 pounds of Snickers.

“There was much upheaval [in Illinois] last year with the top 3 spots all changing hands, and this year is much of the same,” Clair Robins wrote in a blog about the issue on CandyStore.com. “Sour Patch Kids fell from the top spot to No. 2 and was replaced atop the throne by Kit Kat. Snickers jumps onto the scene for the first time at No. 3. Reese’s Cups is out of the top 3.”

It’s not just kids who chomp on the teeth-decaying sugary treats. DeSanto said it’s the adults who put out leftover candy at the office.

“You randomly eat the Milk Dud that you never eat, or the Tootsie Roll that you never eat, and it breaks off that tooth and you lose that crown,” DeSanto said.

Donating the candy to Operation Gratitude is a win for the kids who will experience the joy of giving, and a win for your dentist, she said.

“Halloween is just a nightmare for dentists in general so we’re trying to help our own cause here because we don’t really want to work that hard,” DeSanto said. “But it’s just gotta get out of the house. It’s not healthy.”

Find more about how you can donate leftover candy at OperationGratitude.com which includes an interactive map to find a candy drop-off location near you.