Children Give Back to Troops & First Responders, Donate Candy to Operation Gratitude

Taking candy from children is usually frowned upon, but teaching kids the value of giving back by donating their excess Halloween candy in support of U.S. Troops and First Responders is a win-win for kids, parents, and health care practitioners alike.

This Halloween, local trick-or-treaters will join kids across the nation when they bring their Halloween candy and handwritten letters of gratitude to Mercy Health - Springfield Regional Medical Center, located at 100 Medical Center Drive. Donors can leave candy and handwritten letters or drawings to service members in drop boxes available in main lobby and at the cafeteria entrance from November 1-7. The goodies will be shipped to Operation Gratitude for inclusion in Care Packages to U.S. Service Members deployed overseas and to First Responders serving here at home. Hospital employees and family members are also welcome to bring their extra candy to the donation centers.

The hospital’s team of dietitians presented to idea to Springfield Regional Medical Center leadership. The hospital is proud to participate in the Operation Gratitude Halloween GIVE-Back Program to reduce excess sugar consumption, prevent dental decay and teach children the importance of saying “Thank You” to all who serve.

“As dietitians, we couldn’t think of a better way to reduce the amount of sugar that the children and adults of Springfield are consuming while giving back to those that protect our freedoms,” said Kaitlin Lichty, RDN, LD, Lead Clinical Dietitian, Mercy Health - Springfield Regional Medical Center.

Americans spend an estimated $2.5 billion dollars on a whopping 600 million pounds of Halloween candy each year. In 2016 alone, 533,891 pounds of that candy was sent to Operation Gratitude for distribution through its Care Package Programs.

"Operation Gratitude has shipped more than 1.9 million Care Packages that include items such as DVDs, handmade scarves and hygiene products. Halloween candy is a wonderful addition to these packages," says Operation Gratitude's founder, Carolyn Blashek. “The candy is a great morale boost for the troops, and a means to create positive interaction with local children.  Equally important is that the Halloween Candy GIVE-Back Program provides every American child the opportunity to learn about service, sacrifice and generosity.”