Operation Gratitude Halloween Candy Give-Back Program Offers a Sweet Way to Make a Difference by Operation Gratitude
Whether you got too much Halloween candy or don’t think you’ll have enough trick or treaters during a pandemic, Operation Gratitude can help. While it might be hard for kids to understand Halloween 2020 is different this year, one special treat remains the same: the importance of giving back and helping others.
Operation Gratitude’s Halloween Candy Give-Back Program has been connecting communities with their military and first responder heroes each fall since 2007. It began with 300 dentists donating candy to distribute to deployed troops for Veterans Day. Now more than 300,000 Americans donate hundreds of tons of candy yearly.
“Operation Gratitude’s mission is to forge strong bonds between grateful Americans and the heroes who serve and protect them through volunteerism, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements nationwide,” said retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Schmiegel, CEO of Operation Gratitude. “The Halloween Candy Give-Back Program provides Americans of all ages the opportunity to express appreciation and gain a better understanding of service and the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform.”
Grateful Americans from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., share a portion of their Halloween candy with Operation Gratitude, which in turn distributes it to deployed troops, veterans and first responders in their signature care packages and through in-person, direct deliveries in communities. More than 6,000 groups and organizations donated 361,000 pounds of Halloween candy to Operation Gratitude in 2019 alone. The nonprofit mobilizes dedicated volunteers of all ages across the country to collect and help distribute candy to America’s heroes locally.
There are two ways Operation Gratitude distributes the candy to those who serve:
- Care Packages: In 2019, 306,000 pounds of candy was shipped by dentists offices, local businesses, schools other community-based groups, and single-family households from thousands of communities directly to the Operation Gratitude headquarters in Los Angeles, where it was processed and included in individually addressed care packages for deployed troops, veterans, wounded heroes and caregivers.
- Direct Deliveries: In 2018, for the first time outside of Los Angeles, the program was expanded to include direct deliveries at the community level. The focus of this initiative is to provide opportunities for donors to connect in person with local first responder, military and veteran heroes. Volunteers experience the joy and impact of directly donating the candy and forging bonds with those who serve their communities. In 2019, Operation Gratitude saw a 500 percent increase in local deliveries with donors and volunteers hand-delivering 55,000 pounds of candy to 96 veteran, military and first responder units across 30 states. Operation Gratitude has set an ambitious goal in 2020 to deliver candy to local heroes in all 50 states and D.C.
For more information about the Halloween Candy Give-Back Program visit OperationGratitude.com.
Photos: Operation Gratitude
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