Donate Leftover Candy this Halloween

by Sierra Guardiola

There aren’t too many things sweeter than the memory of gathering with friends on a living room floor to sort through the loot collected Halloween night. I can still picture the mini stock market floor that emerged as my childhood friends and I traded for our favorite candies among the bunch. The rush of collecting pillowcases full of candy left me on a sugar high for days to come, but no matter how much candy I ate I never was able to finish my pillowcase full.

The National Retail Federation estimates that shoppers will spend $2.6 billion dollars on candy alone this Halloween season. Out of people surveyed, 68.5 percent said they planned to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. That’s quite a lot of candy. With kids coming home carrying pillowcases full of sugary snacks that they will no doubt be unable to completely finish, what can be done with the inevitable leftovers?

The organization Operation Gratitude has a program within their organization called Halloween Candy Give Back. Operation Gratitude is an organization that sends individually addressed care packages to those who serve our nation, whether it be first responders or people in various branches of the military. They operate on a donation basis and collect snacks, hygiene products, entertainment, hand-written letters, and handmade items donators wish to send that are then placed into a care package. Their Halloween Candy Give Back brings in much of the candy that they include in each of these care packages.

Operation Gratitude isn’t the only program working to collect extra Halloween candy. The Halloween Candy Buy Back program works to reduce the overconsumption of sugar by children, while also supporting American troops. Started by a dentist in Wisconsin, the program consists of dentist offices across the nation that “buy back” Halloween candy from children in the area. The buyback can be done with cash or through other methods, like local coupons. The purchased candy gets sent to troops as a thank you for their service.

To drop candy off at a location in the Finger Lakes for Operation Gratitude, there are a few options listed below:

  • Ithaca Dentistry
    310 E Court Street, Ithaca
  • Catania Orthodontics
    7000 E. Genesee Street Bldg. C, Fayetteville
  • Thompson Dental Care
    43 Highview Circle, Brockport
  • Brockport Smiles
    64 North Main Street, Lyndonville
  • Calvin U. Smith Elementary School
    3414 Stanton Street, Painted Post
  • Aurora Dental Care
    92 Grey Street, East Aurora


Drop off locations for the Halloween Candy Buy Back in the Finger Lakes are:

  • Lang Dental Group
    543 Long Pond Road, Rochester
  • Safari Smiles Pediatric Dentistry
    100 W Market Street, Corning
  • Brockport Smiles
    64 North Main St, Brockport


Donors for Operation Gratitude can also package up their extra candy and ship it to Operation Gratitude by November 8 to be included in the care packages.


Sierra is a senior journalism major at Ithaca College. She is currently a freelancer for Hudson Valley Magazine and can also be seen in Real Simple. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching Parks and Rec or exploring the many hikes in the Ithaca region.

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