Did your little one get so much Halloween candy that you secretly hid half of it? Or maybe trick-or-treaters were sparse this year and you're left with bags of chocolate you don't want in the house? Rather than get side-eye from co-workers by bringing it to the office, you can donate your unwanted Halloween candy - and sweeten someone else's day.
There are a slew of groups and organizations that take candy donations. You might try sending to U.S. troops or stocking your local food pantry or bringing sweets to a firehouse. Donating Halloween candy can bring smiles to people of all ages, as well as make you feel great about how you're handling the candy surplus this season.
Where Can You Donate Halloween Candy?
Various organizations that serve children, U.S. military troops, and the underserved will gratefully accept donations of Halloween candy. If you are shipping the candy, it is best not to include Pixy Stix or powdery candy, as they don't ship well.
Treats for Troops
If you're interested in learning how to donate candy to soldiers, a great option to turn to is Soldiers' Angels' program Treats for Troops, which offers kids the opportunity to be altruistic in support of U.S. troops. Many local businesses will accept Halloween candy from kids to send on to this charity. Dental offices often participate by providing items such as toothbrushes and floss, and sometimes even cash, in exchange for your candy. Other places, such as gyms, schools, and churches can also partcicipate in the program.
After the candy is collected, the businesses ship it to Soldiers' Angels who distribute the candy to deployed service members and veterans. Visit their website to search for a candy donation location near you. Their website also has information on how you can register your location to be a candy collection site. If there's nowhere in your vicinity to donate, you can also opt to mail your candy directly to the Soldiers' Angels Headquarters at:
Soldiers' Angels Treats for Troops
2895 NE Loop 410, Suite 107
San Antonio, Texas, 78218
Halloween Candy Buyback
You can also support the soldiers and troops by participating in the Halloween Candy Buyback program. Traditionally, dentist offices have participated in this program, but it is available to any local business. You can take your candy to a scheduled event in which participating businesses will buy it in exchange for cash, goods, or services. Check the Halloween Candy Buyback website for the most current information on finding a buyback event near you, or to register your business to participate in the program.
Another candy donation program is Operation Shoebox, which sends troops care packages year-round that include heat-resistant candy. You can send bags of individually wrapped candies to:
8360 E. Highway 25,
Belleview, FL, 34420
In addition to Halloween, Operation Shoebox also accepts Christmas and Easter Candy donations. You can also opt to donate a range of other items for their care packages, including items ranging from chewing gun to playing cards to toiletries.
The Any Soldier organization sends care packages and gifts to soldiers serving overseas. You can select a specific soldier or unit to send your candy to via their website. You can also include a card or letter to share your well wishes.
Ronald McDonald House Charities
You may also be able to make a difference with your Ronald McDonald House Halloween candy donation. Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) provide housing for families who have to travel long distance to get treatment for their children who are severely ill. They help keep kids and their parents together during treatment, so that instead of having to work out living arrangements, parents can focus on their child's care. Though RMHC does not have a universal Halloween candy donation program, many locations will accept donations of unopened candy for the families. Visit the RMHC search page to find a Ronald McDonald House near you.
Many children's hospitals state on their websites that for safety reasons they cannot accept candy as gifts or donations. Before donating candy to a children's hospital, call or check their website first to learn their protocols.
Boys & Girls Club of America
Your local Boys & Girls Club may accept Halloween candy donations. They provide mentors for children, as well as various programs for sports and recreation, education, arts, health and wellness, leadership, and workforce readiness. You can find a club near you by searching on their website.
Schools and Colleges
Contact local schools and colleges in your town and see if they accept candy donations. Many elementary schools collect Halloween candy to donate to the troops, to distribute at school functions, and to exchange for cash at local dental practices.
Show your gratitude to your hometown firemen by donating candy to your local fire station. Check on your city's website for phone numbers of stations near you.
Food Banks and Pantries
Food banks and pantries share the same mission: to provide food to those in need. A food bank is an organization that collects products from the food industry and food drives and then distributes it to agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. A food pantry, on the other hand, is a specific site that distributes boxes of food directly to those in need in a specified location.
Can you donate candy to food banks? It depends; some request you consider donations of essential food items rather than candy. It's typically best to check with your local food back to see what their needs and restrictions are. Don't assume you can donate your Halloween candy without checking first. Search for local food pantries in your area for where you may be able to donate your candy.
More Ideas for How to Donate Halloween Candy
You still have lots of options for donating Halloween candy if the above ideas don't fit the bill (or should we say bag?). Look for local businesses that partner with larger national or state-wide programs in your area. You may see notices for these programs just in your day-to-day patronage of your favorite shops and businesses. Other ideas for where to donate Halloween candy include:
- Check Your Local News Websites: Local news stations often do round-ups of the most current local places, such as dentist offices or other businesses, participating in Halloween candy buybacks or candy donation programs near you. Check your favorite news station website when Halloween is nearing to get the details.
- Ask Nursing Homes: Senior citizens might enjoy a sweet treat around Halloween or be able to use candy donations for Bingo nights or other activities. Check with local nursing homes if they acept candy, and ask about restrictions on items like hard or chewy treats.
- Check With Churches: Churches often host events like Trunk or Treats or other fall-themed or Harvest festivals and are in need of treats for kids, teens, or families that attend the events. Post-Halloween, churches may also use the candy for children's or youth group events. Visit websites or call local churches to see if they are in need of your candy donation.
- Local Libraries: Libraries often have fall programs available for kids. Whether it's a spooky story hour or a full-on Halloween event for families, your local library may benefit from your extra treats.
- Share With Shelters and Community Centers: Local shelters and community centers may also be able to use donated candy. As with other locations, be sure to check first and ask about any restrictions or treats they can't accept.
- Make Treats for Holiday Bake Sales: Another creative way to help out is to use that extra Halloween candy in new recipes and bake treats for those upcoming holiday bake sales to support local schools and other places looking to raise money. You can even freeze many types of candy and save them until you're ready to make some fun cookies, bars, or other desserts.
- Give Everyday Mini Donations: An easy way to make a difference and brighten someone's day is to use individually wrapped leftover Halloween candies and make up mini treat bags (just use clear cellophane bags from the dollar store with a strip of ribbon or even sandwich or snack bags). Leave these for your mail carrier or UPS delivery person, or hand one to your trash collector. You might even make your neighbor's day with this random act of kindness!
Share the Sweetness
The smallest act of kindness can brighten someone's day or make a positive difference in difficult times. Show your support by donating your excess Halloween candy, and spread the sweetness to those in need.