SANTA ROSA BEACH — Taking candy from children is usually frowned upon, but Dr. Cassidy Cook and the team at Cook Family Dentistry of Santa Rosa Beach are encouraging local kids to donate some of their Halloween candy for a good cause. The candy will be sent to troops overseas in support of Operation Gratitude’s Care Package Programs for U.S. troops, veterans and first responders.


This Halloween, local trick-or-treaters will join kids across the country when they donate their extra Halloween candy to Operation, with the Northwest Florida drop-off point located at Cook Family Dentistry in Santa Rosa Beach. The sweet treats will be included along with handwritten thank you letters in Care Packages sent to U.S. service members deployed overseas, and hand delivered to veterans and first responders serving in their local communities.


“This is a great way to give back to those who are serving overseas in the military and those who are serving our communities as first responders,” said Dr. Cassidy Cook. “We’re happy to give back to them in some small way by donating extra candy and toothbrushes.”


Americans spend an estimated $2.5 billion dollars on a whopping 600 million pounds of Halloween candy each year. In 2018, more than 440,000 pounds of candy was donated to Operation Gratitude and distributed to America’s Heroes through its care package programs.


“Operation Gratitude’s mission is to thank all who serve, bridging the divide between grateful Americans and the Heroes who serve and protect them,” said Kevin Schmiegel, Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret.) and CEO of Operation Gratitude. “The Halloween Candy Give-Back Program provides every American child the opportunity to learn about service, sacrifice and generosity.”


Candy and handwritten thank you letters for deployed Service Members, Veterans, and First Responders will be collected at Cook Family Dentistry, 2441 US-98 Suite 107 in Santa Rosa Beach from now through Nov. 7, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please note that Cook Family Dentistry is closed on Fridays.


Operation Gratitude is also accepting donations of dental floss and travel sized toothpaste, as well as pens for deployed troops writing letters home during the holidays. Visit www.operationgratitude.com/express-your-thanks/halloween-candy to learn more.