Donate your extra Halloween candy to local veterans

Do something sweet with that mountain of sugar.

Every Halloween, Americans buy over 600 million pounds of candy. And believe it or not, a lot of it just ends up in the garbage.

If you're one of those people who dropped $100 in Reese's and only had a handful of trick-or-treaters ring your doorbell this year (or maybe your kid hit the sugar jackpot), there's something thoughtful you can do with that mountain of sugar.

Save yourself a cavity, and donate it to local service members, their families, and Minnesota's growing veteran population.

One way is through Treats for Troops. It's a Halloween candy collection program organized by Soldiers' Angels, a nonprofit that provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

Soldiers' Angels takes unwanted and excess candy and ships it to deployed service members in care packages. They also hand it out to veterans in VA hospitals for a sweet treat.

The candy collection happens from Nov. 1 through Nov. 5. Search for a drop-off location near you here.

Or head to your nearest Goodwill store – this year, every single Goodwill in Minnesota and Wisconsin (46 total) will be accepting candy. You’ll find a special bin for candy donations near the front of the store. Children may even get a special "prize" in exchange for their treats.

After Nov. 5, the candy will be sent to the St. Paul Vet Center, and from there it will be distributed to local service members.

Trade it for fruit and veggies

Another option: drop off your candy at a Health Partners clinic, where you'll receive a voucher for $5 worth of fresh produce at Cub Foods.

Health Partners donates the candy to Operation Gratitude, which sends the goodies – along with plenty of toothbrushes and toothpaste – to U.S. troops.

From now through Nov. 7, drop off your haul at one of 18 HealthPartners Dental Clinic locations in the Twin Cities and Central Minnesota, or at one of 3 HealthPartners Three Rivers Orthodontics sites in Anoka, Champlin and Elk River.

Health Partners says more than 1,000 pounds of candy were traded in last year – the organization hopes to set a new record.

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