BALTIMORE — Children and families in the Baltimore area have a chance to exchange Halloween candy for toys and send deployed U.S. troops a “sweet” reminder of home during “Operation Troop Treats,” an annual candy exchange hosted by local Kool Smiles dental offices in partnership with Operation Gratitude.
Between Saturday, October 28 and Saturday, November 4, 2017, children and families are encouraged to visit the following Kool Smiles dental office locations to exchange their Halloween candy for toys at the offices listed below:
Westside: 2429 Frederick Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21223 — Phone: 443-957-1615
Eastpoint: 7839 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224 — Phone: 443-503-4903
Broadway: 1900 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21213 — Phone: 443-957-1602
Patterson: 4173 Patterson Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 — Phone: 443-743-2100
Brooklyn Park: 5700 Ritchie Highway, Brooklyn Park, MD 21225 — 410-589-0711
Area families are invited to participate and candy can be donated any time during regular office hours. All donated candy will be sent in care packages to U.S. service members stationed overseas via Operation Gratitude.
“We started Operation Troop Treats six years ago to promote healthy dental habits during Halloween, and to bring a little bit of holiday joy to U.S. service members deployed overseas who are not able to celebrate with family here at home,” said Dr. Ashley Nichols, Managing Dental Director for Kool Smiles. “Many of our Kool Smiles patient families and employees are current or former service members, so this is a small way for us to share a smile with our troops and say thank you to those who sacrifice so much to ensure our safety and security.”
In addition to the candy shipment, Kool Smiles dentists will donate 200 dental care kits and the funds to cover the assembly and shipment of 200 Operation Gratitude care packages filled with letters of appreciation, food, entertainment and hygiene items, and other sweet reminders of home.
Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3), volunteer-based organization that annually produces more than 200,000 care packages for U.S. Service Members deployed in harm’s way, their children, Wounded Heroes, Veterans, New Recruits and First Responders.
“Operation Troop Treats gives children of all ages an opportunity to say thank you to the people who put their lives on the line for our protection, and to experience the values of service and giving in a hands-on and memorable way,” said Carolyn Blashek, Founder of Operation Gratitude. “We’re excited to partner with Kool Smiles again this year to send candy, smiles, and a whole lot of gratitude to U.S. Service Members deployed overseas.”
During regular office hours, between Saturday, October 28 and Saturday, November 4, every child who comes in will receive one toy for every 25 pieces of unopened candy in its original packaging. The program is open to everyone, regardless of whether they are Kool Smiles patients. There is a limit of three toys per child and toys are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
In 2016, more than four tons of donated candy was sent to deployed U.S. troops through Operation Troop Treats. In the Baltimore area alone, children and families donated more than 429 pounds of candy last year. Kool Smiles hopes to exceed last year’s candy contribution.
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 and sugar intake.
“Sugar creates a breeding ground for harmful bacteria in the mouth, which can wear away at tooth enamel and create cavities,” Dr. Nichols explained. “Reducing the frequency of sugar intake can help combat tooth decay during the holiday season. We don’t want to take the fun out of Trick or Treating— just the cavities!”
For more information about the program, including the nearest Kool Smiles location, visit http://www.mykoolsmiles.com/trooptreats.