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
10/26/23 - By Natalie Silverstein

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. 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!  Check out these candy science experiments, plus plenty more 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 2023

1. Halloween Candy Buyback Program at Move America Forward

Participate in the Halloween Candy Buyback Program at Move America Forward by collecting Halloween candy and sending it in. It's called a buyback program, but really, it's donating candy to be included in care packages for the troops. Last year over 20,000 pounds of candy were collected and sent overseas. You can also send any personal messages from kids who donate their candy, and the messages will be included with the candy in the care packages.

When the event is over, you and your kids will get a wrap-up email, which provides information about the total candy collected and how many troops you’ve supported. It also includes pictures from the troops. It's really great for kids to see the impact their donations have. Donations are collected throughout the end of the year, but the organization recommends shipping between November 1-7. Information for what to send and where to send it are on the website.

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

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.

6. Think Local

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. Be sure to call first, 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 US 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.