Halloween is coming up, and instead of accepting an influx of cavities in school-age children, you can encourage your younger patients to get rid of their Halloween loot altogether – by participating in the Halloween Candy Buy-Back, which donates candy and other goodies to Operation Gratitude.
"Operation Gratitude annually sends 100,000 care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions, to their children left behind and to Wounded Warriors, Veterans and First Responders," according to their website.
2012 marks the ninth year of the program, and if you haven’t participated in the past, I urge you to consider it this year. Traditionally called a “buy-back,” doctors are encouraged to trade a pound of candy for a dollar, which is something that your school-age patients can actually be excited about. The traded candy will then be sent to overseas troops. (Participants are also encouraged to write letters or send cards to the troops to be included with the candy.)
Each year, the number and size of care packages increases with the growing interest and participation in the program. “In 2010 and 2011, over 1,000 dentists were signed up on the site and Operation Gratitude received 125 tons of candy!” said Dr. Chris Kammer, the dentist who started the buy-back in 2007. So far this year, there are already 1,000 dentists signed up to host a Halloween Candy Buy-Back.
One of those already signed up is Tulsa dentist Keith Montgomery of Cherry Street Cosmetics. His practice participated in the program last year and plans to make it a tradition. “We post a sign for the event and get the information out through social media as well,” he told us. “I think parents and their kids are excited about knowing where the candy is going – they’re always more than eager to donate. Some families don’t even want anything in return.”
Of course, there are alternatives to a buy-back – instead, you can trade “goodie bags,” offering children bags filled with oral health goodies, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, and accepting bags of candy instead. To encourage participation in the “give-back,” Dr. Fresh is offering a special promotional price on FireFly toothbrushes to participating dentists.
Your patients won’t be the only ones with a healthy mouth: Operation Gratitude is aiming to send 100,000 toothbrush and toothpaste sets to the troops along with the candy-filled care packages.
You can register to participate online at HalloweenCandyBuyBack.com – and while you’re there, check out the image gallery of past years!
Dentists should send their donations to Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard by December 5, 2012.
Visit the Operation Gratitude homepage.
Check out Operation Gratitude on Facebook.