So Long Suckers: Candy Buybacks in LA

The day after Halloween, you’re greeted with a grinning munchkin with two giant fistfuls of candy, asking “Can we have lollipops for breakfast?” We’ve got some sweet ideas for weaning the kids off the candy and putting it to a sweet purpose (switch it, give it or swap it) that won’t cause cavities or sugar highs.

1811135149_292c30475b_zphoto credit: Nina Hale via Creative Commons

Switch It
Have you heard of the Switch Witch? You can embellish your own tale to tell your tots, but the general story goes something like this:

“The Switch Witch is a greedy little witch who lives in Candyland. Her house is hidden so deep in the Peppermint Forest that even King Candy can’t find her. All the other witches in the world envy the Switch Witch for her amazing candy collection, and she loves being the top candy witch in the world. To make sure she always has the most candy, every Halloween she makes an offer to all the children who went trick-or-treating: If they leave their ‘extra’ Halloween candy outside their bedroom door, she will trade it for a new toy!”

As parent, you get to determine the definition of “extra candy” (some families leave all the candy, some let the kids pick out a piece or two a day for the upcoming week) and the size of the toy (or prize – movie tickets, a silver dollar, whatever you like).

What do you do with the candy you’ve switched? Donate it to one of the following worthy charities.

9322472336_3c88e973e2_zphoto credit: SurfaceWarriors via Creative Commons

Give It
Appeal to your kiddo’s instinctive loving, caring nature. They have loads of candy, and other people have none. Let them help you package your candy (and maybe even organize a drive at your preschool, school, church or neighborhood) and select one of the following charities that accept candy donations for great causes. Or, if you went the Switch Witch route, you can surreptitiously deliver the candy yourself.

Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude sends over 100,000 care packages each year to U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions, to their kids who are left at home and to wounded warriors, veterans and first responders. Your candy goes right into those packages.

Check the details before sending off your candy – chocolates need to be in separate packages- and it’s awfully nice if you include a few other goodies from their list, like toothbrushes, dental floss and toothpaste. Be sure to include a filled out Donation Form, too.

Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, Ca 91406
Online: operationgratitude.com

Or, you can drop off your box to that same address. They accept donations Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

3000245257_9d3416db69_bphoto credit: Jeffrey Turner via Creative Commons

Operation Shoebox
Here’s another great option for simply putting all that candy in a box, slapping a mailing label on it and dropping it off at the post office, knowing it will find its way to our troops. Every year they send tons (literally) of candy to service men and women who are happy to have sweets you don’t want (they like coffee, too, if you’d like to add an extra treat). Note: they ask that you don’t just dump it in a shoebox anymore, but please use gallon zip lock bags and place them in a larger cardboard box.

Don’t forget thank you cards for the troops, too! And kids are welcome to include pre-addressed post cards or notes in the package to start up a correspondence with our troops.  (No need to put stamps on these –soldiers can send cards and letters without postage from a war zone.)

Operation Shoebox
8360 E Highway 25
Belleview, Fl 34420
Online: operationshoebox.com

3029127174_f5ffd2443c_zphoto credit: somegeekintn via Creative Commons

Swap It
Dentists and orthodontists know best just how much damage all that sugar can do to little teeth, so many are pro-active in taking the candy out of kids’ hands and putting into the hands of our troops abroad and others in need. These dentists “buy” the candy back from kids with cash, toys, toothbrushes, or prize drawings – each dentist has a different program. To make the candy-buy back process super simple, all you have to do is go to this page, and enter your zip code. They’ll tell you the dentists nearest you who are participating.

Online at: halloweencandybuyback.com

What do you do with all your leftover Halloween candy? And which ones do you sneak and eat? (Peppermint Patties cannot be denied!)

-Meghan Rose

photo credit of pink bunny girl with candy: Andrew Malone via Creative Commons