Local schoolchildren beat their own record this year in a candy buy-back drive that leaves everyone smiling.
Last year, kids across the East End dug deep into their Halloween goody bags, donating more than 3,000 lbs. of candy, to be sent to troops serving the nation. But this year saw banner collection efforts, with children donating 5,000 lbs. of their Halloween haul.
The candy collection is a yearly tradition for Southold resident Dina Reilly, who organizes the effort though her office, Bach Grazina East End Orthodontics.
This year is the sixth time that Reilly’s employer has sponsored the candy buyback initiative, under Dr. Victor Grazina and Dr. Richard Bach. The candy was collected from 31 schools from Wading River to Greenport and across the South Fork.
The effort begins with kids bringing their unwanted candy back to schools. After Halloween, a staff member from Bach Grazina East End Orthodontics goes to each of the 31 schools with a scale to weigh the candy.
Next, the business buys back the candy from the schools at $1 per pound, up to 250 pounds. The school that donates the most candy receives an extra $100.
Candy is brought to a few local American Legion posts, where it’s sorted and sent in care packages overseas.
Chocolate, which can’t be shipped overseas, is sorted and brought to veterans’ hospitals.
Dr. Grazina also donates funds to the American Legion posts to offset shipping costs, Reilly said.
This year, the care packages were sent with just a little extra love.
“We ask the kids to also make cards for the soldiers. This year, we have a record amount of handmade cards from students all over eastern Long Island,” Reilly said.
The funds are donated to school PTAs. Smaller schools receive a check for $50, no matter how little they donate.