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some text Dr. Marie Farrar holds Halloween candy inside her offices Friday at 204 West Main St. Farrar is participating in a Halloween candy buy-back program called Operation Gratitude that will send treats to troops overseas.

WHERE TO TURN IN CANDY

* Smile Studio between now and Nov. 13, Farrar said. The studio is at 204 W. Main St.

* Sun Family Dental will be accepting candy Monday and Tuesday at 744 Lee Highway.

LEARN MORE

Find out more about Operation Gratitude at www.operationgratitude.com.

Trick or treaters with too much candy - if there is such a thing - can sell their excess goodies for cash at some local dentist offices.

Dr. Marie Farrar, an orthodontist at Smile Studio on Main Street in Chattanooga, said she participated in the "candy buy-back" last year, but hopes to see more participation this year.

"We only got about 20 or 25 pounds last year," she said. "So we're hoping to get a lot more this year."

Farrar said she got the idea from a national organization, Operation Gratitude, whose mission is sending care packages to soldiers overseas. When children - or, more likely, their parents - bring candy to Smile Studio after Halloween, they can get $2 per pound for up to 10 pounds. The candy will be shipped to Operation Gratitude, where it will be boxed up and sent to U.S. troops around the world.

"I think we all know the harmful effects of sugar on our bodies and on our teeth," Farrar said, "and once we've had our fun with the Halloween candy, then it's time to turn it over and put it to good use to help the troops overseas have a special treat."

She said a station is set up at her office where children can write thank-you notes to be sent with their candy.

Dr. Brad Sundstrom, of Sun Family Dental, said his office is participating for the second year. It will pay $1 per pound for up to 5 pounds of candy.

"Instead of a kid eating 5 pounds of candy, they can get $5 for the piggy bank," Sundstrom said. "We'll have our scales there and we might have little cards [so] they can write a little letter to the troops."

Carolyn Blashek, the founder of Operation Gratitude, said the candy purchasing program began in 2007.

"Last year we received 260,000 pounds of candy," she said. "I'm pretty sure this year we are going to have way more than 260,000 pounds."

Although the program began among dentists, she said, it has expanded to include schools, nonprofits, churches and other groups.

She said the candy buyback gives children a chance to thank their troops directly.

"To me it's this wonderful way for American children to begin to appreciate what the military does for them and express their gratitude," she said.

As for Farrar, she said the candy buyback doesn't just give kids extra cash - it could save parents money.

"As an orthodontist, we always have a lot more brackets and bands [that need repairing] and broken wires after Halloween on patients that typically may not have many broken appliances," she said.

Sundstrom said he plans to participate for as long as he can.

"We intend on doing it for years to come because I just think it's a really great program," he said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Smith at hsmith@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6731.

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