Today, I heard about a program in Pensacola, Florida, to send leftover Halloween candy to our troops deployed overseas. Great idea! I just read a blog post about a similar program in St. Louis, Missouri. On that post, a couple of people commented that they lived too far away or they’d love to participate.
I say: Don’t be sad if you’re not in St. Louis. Be happy — you have the chance to be the catalyst of a local drive to cheer up our troops overseas.
In Pensacola, the USO seems to be spearheading the collection. They’re working with two regional airports, the Navy base, and a dentist’s office to collect the candy. In St. Louis, a dental organization was running everything. If you haven’t heard of any candy-for-the-troops programs in your hometown, be pro-active. Here are some ways you can find a program or start your own initiative.
Do an internet search for CANDY TROOPS [NAME OF YOUR CITY] and you might find an event or collection program that’s already in place.
Look and see if there’s a USO chapter in your area. Even if they’re not specifically collecting Halloween candy, they’ll know someone who is sending care packages.
If there’s a military base or National Guard office nearby, call and ask for their Morale and Recreation department, then ask them if they’re aware of any local programs to send goodies to deployed troops.
Ask around your church, school, civic organization, workplace — someone you know will know someone who’s deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Package up the goodies and ship them over, and the recipient(s) will share with his/her/their unit.
A number of websites list items that are especially appreciated by the troops as well as warning you about potential problems and what you shouldn’t send. Here are a few of them:
Look beyond the Halloween candy, too. Christmas cookies and candy will be coming up soon. The troops also appreciate a lot of other items we take for granted, from hand lotion to toilet paper to books and magazines.
If you want to help, there’s always a way!