Troop Treats', a nationwide program designed to promote dental hygiene during the Halloween season and give kids the opportunity to send overseas troops a sweet reminder of home. Operation Troop Treats encourages children to trade 25 pieces of their Halloween candy in exchange for a toy at 124 Kool Smiles offices nationwide. The candy will then be sent in care packages to US troops serving abroad via Operation Gratitude. In 2012 and 2013, Kool Smiles collected more than two tons of donated candy through Operation Troop Treats.
"Operation Troop Treats is our way of reminding kids and parents about the importance of dental hygiene, especially around Halloween, and at the same time provides the opportunity for kids to give back to our servicemen and women," said Kool Smiles Managing Dental Director D. Ray Gifford, DDS. "The influx of sugar-filled sweets this time of year can disrupt kids' healthy eating and good dental habits. We don't want to take the fun out of Trick or Treating – just the cavities!"
In addition to the exchange program, Kool Smiles is donating 100 dental care packages for troops to Operation Gratitude, as well as the funds to cover the assembly and shipment of 200 care packages. Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3), volunteer-based organization that annually produces over 100,000 care packages for US Service Members deployed in harm's way, their children left behind, New Recruits, Wounded Warriors, Veterans and First Responders. For the past seven years, Operation Gratitude has encouraged dentists to collect Halloween candy from their patients for donation to the troops through their Halloween Candy Buy-Back initiative. Kool Smiles has organized the largest Candy Buy-Back effort ever by a dental organization participating on a national level.
"We are thrilled to have Kool Smiles participating in the program again this year. Their large scale support has made a huge impact on our success and, most importantly, made a real impact on the lives of members of our Armed Forces," said Operation Gratitude Founder Carolyn Blashek. "The kindness of small children donating their Halloween candy not only reminds servicemen and women of home, but also puts smiles on their faces and lifts their morale. Kool Smiles' impressive commitment to donate additional dental care kits and operational funds is deeply appreciated and helps us ensure we are sending valuable care packages to our troops."
All Kool Smiles offices throughout the country are participating in Operation Troop Treats during business hours from Wednesday, October 29 through Wednesday, November 5. The program is open to everyone, regardless of whether they are Kool Smiles patients. Every child that takes part will receive one toy for every 25 pieces of unopened candy in its original intended packaging. There is a limit of three toys per child and toys are distributed on a first come, first served basis.
Brushing twice daily and getting regular dental checkups is vital for people of all ages. However, Halloween is an especially important time for parents to pay close attention to their children's dental health. Good oral care can prevent complex and expensive procedures, as well as contribute to a child's overall health and wellbeing. Poor oral health, on the other hand, can contribute to significant health issues later in life such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
For more information on the program, including the nearest Kool Smiles location, please visit mykoolsmiles.com/trooptreats.