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Local dentist helps send Halloween candy to troops
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Two years ago TV personality Jimmy Kimmel created a viral internet sensation through his YouTube challenge that asked parents to take away their children’s Halloween candy and tape the children’s reactions leaving some mad, some sad, and some downright confused. Fortunately this year, children have the opportunity to avoid the “trick” and instead “treat” our troops abroad to some of the Halloween fun by donating their excess candy.

Local dentist Dr. Antoine Varani of The Dental Spa has partnered with Operation Gratitude for the past five years to donate care packages to active duty members of the military through the candy-buyback program.

 Children are asked to donate excess candy collected during trick-or-treat outings, receiving $1 for every five pounds of candy they exchange.

The donations not only provide the troops a boost in moral, but it teaches children the value of giving and importance of good oral hygiene.

Andee Goodwin of The Agency, the public relations firm that handles Varani’s account, said that the program is widely known among dentists and Varani became involved because he felt it was a great way to reinforce dental health to children.

An occasional piece of candy is okay, said Varani, but no child should eat five pounds of candy, moderation is key.

Each year Operation Gratitude receives about 120 tons of candy from the candy-buyback program. Their partnerships with dentists across the country also provide them with donations of toothbrushes and dental hygiene items.

This year, Varani plans to donate a toothbrush for every pound of candy received.

Children can exchange their candy at Varani’s office between 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.  Nov.  4 to 7 or next door at The Agency between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Nov.  4 to 8.

Operation Gratitude asks that families do not purchase candy to donate, but simply contribute surplus amounts from trick-or-treating or parties. Monetary donations are accepted at the national level.

Those interested in donating to the Operation Gratitude candy-buyback cause can mail checks to Operation Gratitude, 16444 Refugio Road, Encino, CA 91436. This is not a candy processing facility so please do not send candy donations here.