5 Sweet Ways to Donate Halloween Candy: Ronald McDonald House, Operation Shoebox, and More

Sweeten someone else's day by donating Halloween candy to troops, the elderly, or children in need. Photo courtesy of the Halloween Candy Buyback Program
Sweeten someone else's day by donating Halloween candy to troops, the elderly, or children in need. Photo courtesy of the Halloween Candy Buyback Program

If you've got too much candy on November 1, the perfect way to rid your house of excess sugar is to donate Halloween candy. We've found five charitable organizations where you can donate Halloween candy. (Operation Gratitude, which was the go-to for many families for years, is no longer accepting Halloween candy donations. However, the organization has a new way for kids to bring smiles to troops; we've included those details below.) While it might be hard for kids to let the candy go, getting in the habit of giving back lets them enjoy a truly special treat: the feeling of helping others. From our troops to kids in the hospital to local soup kitchens, we found places that will put your excess candy to better use than cavities and tummy aches.

If you want to hang on to a few pieces after you donate Halloween candy, we have more creative uses for sweet stuff, like using it for these science experiments, plus plenty of activities and inspiration for Halloween weekend in our Halloween Guide. Or maybe you're done with Halloween and ready for the next holiday? Thankfully, our Thanksgiving Guide is packed with crafts, activities, games, and more Thanksgiving fun.

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Where to Donate Halloween Candy in 2022

1. Halloween Candy Buyback Program

Visit this site to search for participating dentists and other businesses near you that accept candy donations in exchange for a small reward for the kids, such as toothbrushes, coupons, and sometimes cash. Important note: You must call ahead. Many places set certain buyback rules, like a maximum amount of candy or specific drop-off hours, so be sure to get the details before you go!

RELATED: 20 Hilarious Halloween Jokes for Kids

containers filled with candy for Halloween candy donations
Donate Halloween candy to troops through Soldiers' Angels Treats for Troops. Photo courtesy of Soldiers' Angels

2. Soldiers' Angels

Similar to Operation Gratitude, but smaller in scale, Soldiers' Angels organizes Treats for Troops annually. Visit the website to find a Halloween candy donation drop-off point or register to start a drive of your own.

3. Ronald McDonald House Charities

The Ronald McDonald House helps keep severely ill kids and their parents together during treatment. While there is no universal candy-donation program, many locations accept donations of unopened candy for the families they're helping after Halloween. Visit the RMHC Chapter search page to locate your nearest House and inquire about the specifics for candy donations.

RELATED: A Colorful Skittles Science Experiment for Kids

containers filled with candy in a dentist's office
Operation Shoebox collects candy for troops overseas. Photo courtesy of Operation Shoebox

4. & 5. Operation Shoebox and Any Soldier

These are two more organizations that collect and send care packages and donate Halloween candy to troops overseas. Operation Shoebox accepts individually wrapped candy all year long, though it's good to note that heat-resistant candies are preferred. Guess you'd better eat those Snickers! (Good to keep in mind as the December holidays get underway, too!) Meanwhile, Any Soldier allows you to search soldiers' wish lists and send donations directly overseas.

Finally, don't forget about your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, food pantry, retirement home, or nursing home when thinking of where to donate Halloween candy. Many take donations of unopened candy for residents and guests year-round. It's worth calling to find out if they accept treats, which your kids can deliver with a note and a non-cavity-filled smile.

Note: Operation Gratitude is no longer accepting candy donations for the troops

Operation Gratitude has sent care packages to U.S. troops stationed overseas and first responders stateside for years, collecting hundreds of thousands of pounds of candy annually. Though the candy donations were much appreciated, the organization found that the bulk shipments used to disperse tons of sweets were creating serious logistics bottlenecks for the units of service members and first responders. So they are transitioning to new ways of volunteering. If your kids enjoyed giving to our troops, encourage them to write some letters today!

This article was originally published in October 2013; it is updated annually.

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