Operation Gratitude is an organization that aims to lift the spirits of United States Military and First Responder communities and provide volunteer opportunities for Americans to express their thanks to all who serve our nation.

Every year, Operation Gratitude sends 200,000+ individually addressed care packages to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines deployed overseas, to their children left behind and to new recruits, veterans, first responders and wounded heroes and their care givers. Each package contains food, hygiene products, entertainment and handmade items, as well as letters of support.

Through collection drives, letter-writing campaigns, craft projects and care package assembly events, Operation Gratitude provides civilians across America an opportunity to say thank you to these service people.

At their annual Candy Buy Back event, Cache Valley Pediatric Dentistry has made a tradition out of supporting Operation Gratitude, and encouraging Cache Valley kids to protect their teeth by eating less Halloween candy. At the event, which is held the day after Halloween, Cache Valley Pediatric Dentistry buys trick-or-treat candy from kids the day after Halloween, then sends it on Operation Gratitude. This year, Thomson Family Orthodontics is joining to host the event.

“My husband works with a man who is in the Army and has done a couple of tours in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Lindsay Brenchley, office manager at Cache Valley Pediatric Dentistry said. “[When deciding where to donate our candy], I asked him if he had ever received a package from Operation Gratitude and he said that he had. He said the package lifted his spirits and meant a lot to him.  I asked him about the candy inside, and he said the troops who interacted with local people in the towns would take it. The local kids knew the troops often had candy in their pockets, and it helped them to not be afraid of them. It is an honor to be part of something so special.”

The first year Cache Valley Pediatric Dentistry did the Candy Buy Back they donated about 300 pounds of candy.  The donation has increased by about 50 to 100 pounds more; last year’s total was 560 pounds.

This year’s Candy Buy Back will be Wednesday, November 1 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Cache Valley Pediatric Dentistry and Thomson Family Orthodontics offices in North Logan.