Save a tooth and treat a troop! That was this year's motto for the Neal Smiles Orthodontics Candy Buy-Back program that helped gather candy around Halloween time to be donated to servicemembers and veterans 2,800 pounds in all.
It may not be an easy task to motivate young children to not eat as much candy, but giving back to those that put it all on the line for their country makes the separation much easier.
"We strived to find ways to give back, and what better way than getting kids to not eat as much candy after the Halloween holiday!" said Neal Smiles Orthodontics Marketing Coordinator, Sara Simmons.
"We match the candy donations (Neal Smiles Orthodontics matches $1 per every pound of candy donated) to give to local school's PTSA programs and the feedback from our community and schools has been amazing!" added Simmons. "They love our support and look forward to this event each year; the matched donation to the local schools helps in so many ways to provide supplies, computer equipment, sports equipment, program funding, etc."
So not only do the troops win, but so do the schools.
With 2,800 pounds collected this year, there should be no doubt that the community actually enjoys giving away their Halloween candy, not just to those wearing costumes, but uniforms as well.
"The kids dress up and get so excited to bring their candy in for us to weigh," added Simmons. "The kids, the schools and our community also love to see photos of the military receiving the candy; it really brings a sense of ‘hope'."
This sense of hope comes from the admiration towards servicemembers from the community and a desire to give back to their role models.
"The community looks up to our troops, especially the children, and when they see them happy and smiling with the candy they donated, it's a very proud moment for us and for them!"
The enjoyment gained from this candy buy-back program extends to the community but starts in the orthodontics office that have kept this program running, and growing, for six years.
"The first year we started this event we collected six hundred pounds of candy and now, this year, we collected over twenty-eight hundred pounds and had more schools participate than ever!"
This year, Neal Smiles Orthodontics even had a local Girl Scout troop get involved and ended up matching their donation as well.
"We encourage everyone to help us support our military in some way, not just for the holiday season but also all year long," Simmons added. "Community is very important to our entire team at Neal Smiles Orthodontics."
Sharing the importance of giving back is a duty that Neal Smiles Orthodontics does not take lightly.
"Giving back to our community is one of the most important core values of our office and team," said Simmons. "We don't just change smiles at our office; we love to make the community, schools, students and troops smile!"
Neal Smiles Orthodontics also hosts various events throughout the year to give back, such as free community events and parties (movie days, skate parties), they host pizza parties at schools and collect food and clothing donations for the homeless youth during the November/December months each year and even prepare care packages for troops stationed overseas during the holidays.
"It is no surprise that during the holiday season, candy is at an all time high with record sales at stores," said Simmons. "We can't think of a better way to get candy "off the streets" and out of the hands of the youth - than with a way to "give it back and donate" instead of eating all of it.
The candy buy-back program provides this outlet for them to give their candy to a good cause.
Instilling characteristics of supporting the military and community service early in life can help shape young minds from an early age - another facet of our Neal Smiles Orthodontics' core values.
Although Neal Smiles Orthodontics has already left thousands of sweet treats for servicemembers and veterans across Washington state, they wanted to share one last message for all those that serve.
"Thank you for sacrificing your families and holidays so we can be with ours. Thank you! We hope that our candy in some ways can bring a sense of ‘home' to you if you are stationed away over the holidays, and that the candy you received will represent all the children who lovingly brought it in to our office knowing that it was going to go to YOU, our service men and women who fight for our country and for us every day. We wish you safe travels now and every day until you're home with your families."
Candy donations went to servicemembers on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Camp Murray, Naval Base-Kitsap, the Dec. 1 Seattle Stand Down event and to Washington State Veteran Homes residents.
To learn more about this program and to find out how you can alleviate the burdensome task of having to eat your child's Halloween candy, visit nealsmiles.com.