Dentist's Cash for Candy program sends sweets to troops

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi families had a chance to get rid of their leftover Halloween candy Monday, for a good cause. A Vancleave dentist, Dr. Edward Banas, paid local children for their unwanted sweets.  He plans to ship the candy to Operation Gratitude, an organization that will send the sweets to troops overseas.

The kids who showed up seemed to know they were giving up their candy for more than a healthy smile.

"We're here to give candy to the troops," said 9-year-old Frances Gibson.  "And we're writing thank you notes for them serving to let us be free."

"They're putting their lives on the line for us and it's right for us to stand behind them," said Brooklin and Stephanie Davis.

The sacrifice paid off.  Each person who gave up their candy got a few perks in exchange.

"They're going to be getting a dollar a pound for their candy," Banas said.  "We have food coupons from Sonic, McDonalds, Chick-Fil-A.  We have a flashing toothbrush that's really cool."

The candy is making the trip overseas along with handwritten notes from the children, and will probably reach the hands of children in war torn countries far away.

"The troops give the candy to the kids to bribe them, to become friends with them," Banas explained.  "And the kids will tell them where the bombs are, and where the enemy is hidden.  It saves lives, really."

The tradeoff was especially sweet for Canaan Herkamp, a military wife whose 7-year-old daughter can't eat candy these days.

"My daughter has major orthodontic work," Herkamp explained.  "Whenever she would get frustrated she couldn't have the candy that was being given her, I would remind her that we were going to get to bring it down here.  And she could not only get some money for it, but she'd get a cool new toothbrush."

To Herkamp, its also a way to send a heartfelt 'thank you' to the people putting their lives at great risk overseas.

"We take any opportunity we can get to say thanks to our neighbors who might have to go through the things we might not have to go through."

Dr. Banas and his staff collected more than 50 pounds of candy to send.  They'll be collecting until noon Tuesday.

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