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Kids Collect 2000 Pounds of Candy for Troops Overseas

The candy will be sent overseas and shared with local children there.

Photo Credit: Dina Reilly
Photo Credit: Dina Reilly
Southold mom Dina Reilly said after all was said and done, over 2000 pounds –— or an entire ton — of leftover Halloween candy was collected for troops overseas.

"We hit our goal," she said.

Reilly has been busy collecting the candy from various schools on the East End, with 19 schools participating.

Now that the 2000 pounds has been weighed, it's being brought to local American Legions to be sent overseas.

Although this marks the fourth time that Reilly's employer, East End Orthodontics, has sponsored the Candy Buyback under Dr. Victor Grazina and Dr. Richard Bach, it's her first time involved with the project.

After collecting 700 pounds from five schools last month, Reilly said, "I'm shooting for a ton. I want to say I collected a ton of candy." And Reilly reached her goal.

What's special about her employers, Reilly said, is that the dentists do not ask kids to come in with their candy for an office visit. "It's not about getting patients," she said. "It's about helping schools, and community service."

Instead, the candy is collected directly from the schools, where it is weighed, and where Dr. Grazina buys it back, for $1 a pound, up to $200 per school. The funds are donated to school PTAs, she said. And even smaller schools receive a check for $50, no matter how little they donate. Whatever school donates the most candy will receive an additional $100.

The candy is more than just a sweet treat for troops, Reilly said.

"Not only will men and women serving our country enjoy the candy — but they will share it with children in the areas where they are stationed. Chances are children in Kuwait aren't getting Twizzlers on a regular basis."

And, Reilly added, while the candy is a treat, "It has been proven to save lives. The children befriend the soliders and can sometimes provide them with inside information."

The initiative, which began on the South Fork, now includes schools from Greenport to Wading River and Montauk to Moriches.

After driving home from collecting candy last month, Reilly laughed. "Every square inch of my car is packed right now. It's so funny — it's dragging on the ground. I didn't realize how much candy there would be."

Her employers, Reilly said, are philanthropic, devoted to giving back to the community and one day, hope to work on a Habitat for Humanity House. "I'm so lucky to work with such a great group of people — people that want to do good things for other people."

Giving back a portion of their Halloween candy teaches kids life lessons, Reilly said.

"My kids were really excited," she said. "They're also very competitive; they wanted to find out if their school, Southold Elementary, had won."

Southold, Reilly said, gathered 131 lbs; Moriches, a larger school, collected 200 lbs.

"The kids take it seriously, decorating the boxes. They get really into it," she said.

And, she added, "It's hard for a kid to share their candy. And here they are, willingly giving it up, to share with kids all over the world." 

Reilly said she believes in teaching children that, while they may want a new pair of sneakers or a toy, there are many kids worldwide who have nothing.

"It puts it all in perspective," she said.

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