A local charity is hoping that people with leftover Halloween candy will give it to U.S. service members.
“I had some families say that, last year, they had 150 kids and this year had forty,” said Michael Embry, a DeKalb businessman who runs an annual initiative called Sweets4Troops.
Before Halloween, people stock up on candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters — and then are stuck with whatever is left at the end of the night.
Sweets4Troops found a solution, by accepting donations of leftover Halloween candy and shipping it to military men and women overseas.
“When you got a box from home, everybody dug in the box. And, of course, you got the socks and, you know, the other things, but you look for the candy,” Embry said. “The military people have a hard time overseas. It’s not fun being away, and this is a touch from home.”
Embry began collecting candy in DeKalb for Operation: Support Our Troops America, five years ago, after a particularly dreary Halloween with few trick-or-treaters.
“We just put it on social media,” Embry recalled. “And we had fun with it the first year. We said, you know, if you don’t want to add more calories to your hips, you could drop it off. What we thought would be…maybe 50 pounds of candy, ended up getting 150 pounds of candy!”
The donations have since multiplied, with last year’s total being just under half a ton, providing service members with a sweet treat for the holidays that they might not have had otherwise.
“It’s Christmas by the time it gets to the service members,” Embry said.
“Some of the time, when they’re way out in the remote places, they might just get an MRE [Meal, Ready to Eat],” added Sue Lifton of Operation Support Our Troops America. “Basically, you can survive on it, but it’s not going to have that taste of home, and that’s what they miss most: those little things.”
Hyvee, a local grocery store, joined the effort this year, donating about 100 pounds of unsold candy instead of throwing it away to make room for Christmas merchandise.
“There was a little bit of everything, to be honest with you,” said Hyvee’s Wine and Spirits Manager, John McIntyre. “Everything from candy corn to some chocolates to marshmallows, it was just a big assortment of stuff.”
Embry is accepting donations through November 17th and says that, while they accept all donations, fun sized candies that are individually wrapped are preferred.
Candy can be dropped off at the following locations:
The FUN Companies, 650 Peace Road, Suite F, DeKalb
DeKalb Fire Station No. 1, 700 Pine St.
Sycamore Fire Department, 535 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore
Daily Chronicle, 1586 Barber Greene Road, DeKalb
Le Print Express, 1950 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore
For information, email Embrey at M.Embrey@FuunMEEvents.com or call 815-756-1263.