Aspiring for the sweets
Oct 25, 2012 | 442 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s a sweet deal for all involved — the kids who can’t eat all that leftover Halloween candy, the parents who don’t want the kids to eat all that leftover Halloween candy and a slew of Cleveland dentists who are already busy enough.

But the deal is sweetest for America’s thousands of troops who have been deployed, or who are stationed, in foreign lands and on distant soil. It is these U.S. soldiers who will be getting packages of goodies along with thank you cards from plenty of little senders.

We refer to a unique initiative now in its second year. It is called “Operation Gratitude: Candy BuyBack,” a program operated by Aspire Orthodontics in which children or adults can hand over excess holiday candy for $1 per pound.

Maximum payment will be $10.

In its inaugural year in 2011, the campaign brought in a whopping 200 pounds of sweets. The amount exceeded expectations as Aspire planners would have been happy with just 100 pounds. Now, with more and more people familiar with the endeavor, the sky’s the limit regarding the amount of leftovers expected to be delivered.

Marlene Rogers, Aspire’s new-patient coordinator, told our newspaper the orthodontic practice wants to exceed 200 pounds this year and in a grand way.

“We were really pleased with the outcome last year,” she said. “If we could get an even greater turnout this year, then that would be wonderful.”

Aspire is using a variety of techniques to market the Candy BuyBack. One is to distribute fliers at the office to all Aspire patients and asking them to spread the sweet news among their neighbors, friends, colleagues and loved ones.

The medical group is appealing to youngsters to use the BuyBack as a learning experience, one that teaches giving more than receiving.

Rogers explained it thoughtfully when she pointed out Aspire wants to protect the teeth of the office’s young patients, but also to appeal to them to keep U.S. troops in their hearts and minds, and to remember the importance of all charitable acts, no matter how big or how small.

Collected candy will be sent to Operation Gratitude’s base at the California Army National Guard in Van Nuys, Calif. All candy will then be shipped overseas to American troops. Some 125 tons (more than 250,000 pounds) were collected nationwide in 2011 through similar buy-back programs in dental and orthodontic offices.

Letters and notes of gratitude to the troops are also accepted with the candy.

Donors of these sweets are invited to show their appreciation to the troops by thanking them for their military service, their courage when being deployed to overseas battlefields and for the sacrifices they make while away from their friends and loved ones.

Any donor can bring in large amounts of leftover candy, but compensation will be received for only the first 10 pounds. All donated candy must be wrapped. Individual pieces will be accepted separately. It is not required that they be inside an unopened or opened bag.

Admittedly, “Operation Gratitude: Candy BuyBack” is an unusual program — “unique” is perhaps a better word — but it carries a mighty message with powerful impact.

It pays homage to the bravery of America’s troops.

It teaches children the importance of giving.

It lines the same children’s pockets with a few dollars.

It probably even protects a few thousand teeth along the way.

It keeps a lot of sugar out of the systems of kids who already face a growing number of health uncertainties.

But most of all, it’s a sweet act.

Pun intended.

We hope all will remember Aspire Orthodontics on Nov. 1 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. with your candy drop-offs.