BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. For kids who have more Halloween candy than they know what to do with, dentist Michael Teitelbaum has a solution: sell your candy to him for a dollar a pound, and he'll donate it to troops overseas who may have missed the Halloween tradition.
"I enjoy doing things that are fun, yet also good for people's health. Let's face it, this time of year both adults and children eat too much sugar and end up paying the price later with a mouth full of cavities," Teitelbaum said.
Teitelbaum got the idea to send Halloween candy to troops from a west coast dentist, Chris Kammer, who started the "candy buyback" program in 2001 when the Iraq war started.
"I thought it was such a great idea," Teitelbaum said on Tuesday. "I heard about it right after Halloween (in 2001), and I started doing it the next year. I was the first to do it in New York."
In 2001, Teitelbaum received about 200 pounds of Halloween candy which he sent to the California National Guard so that they could bundle it up with supplies and send it overseas to troops.
As the years progressed, more children brought their Halloween candy to Teitelbaum, and for the last few years, he has donated about 500 to 600 pounds of candy to the New York National Guard to be sent to troops overseas.
"Most of the kids are very happy because they're getting money, and they've usually picked out the candy that they don't like any way," Teitelbaum said. "Some of them have written notes and they're very happy to be patriotic and help out the troops."
Teitelbaum's long-time patient, Carol Levitt, said she thinks the candy buy-back program is great because it makes it easy to do something about unwanted Halloween candy.
"You do end up with so much candy that you don't want or need and he makes it so easy," she said. "All you need to do is drop it off and he takes care of it. Everyone wants to do something, but we don't always have the time or the means. And when you go there and see how much candy there is, it's unbelievable. It's like piled to the ceiling."
Teitelbaum has heard stories third-hand about where his candy ended up in Iraq.
"I heard that soldiers were getting this candy and some were eating it, while some were taking it on patrols and as they saw little Iraqi kids, they would try to make friends and give them some of this candy," the dentist said.
Teitelbaum's office is located at 1312 Pleasantville Rd. Candy can be dropped off on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of this week between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. It will be weighed on a scale in his office.
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