Some dentists pay kids a $1 per pound for dumping the sugary loot. At least two offices in Broward are dishing out $2 a pound.
It's a win-win: Parents are eager to be rid of the tempting sweets, and kids are delighted to receive money. "The smiles on their faces are priceless," said Stephen Bender, office manager for pediatric dentist Fara Bender in Lake Worth.
Dentists and orthodontists participating in the Halloween Candy BuyBack set up their own rules for when they accept candy drop-offs and what they provide in exchange. Some hand out goody bags with toothbrushes or other nonmonetary incentives, while many pay $1 a pound up to a preset limit. The sweets are packed up and shipped to Operation Gratitude, which includes them in packages sent to U.S. military troops overseas.
Some families write notes for the military personnel and add them to their Halloween haul. Usually, the youngsters surrender the sweets without objection, the dentists report.
"For the most part, I think they go through and pick out all the stuff they want and trade in the stuff that’s not so important to them, and some kids don’t care about candy," said dentist Brian P. Rask of Pompano Beach. Rask and dentist Robert Dolgow in Lauderdhill are each offering $2 a pound at their offices.
Before the piles are shipped off, dentists and their staff acknowledge, a few items may be pilfered.
"It's tempting," said Mary Ellen Blanco, an orthodontics assistant at Caponera Orthodontics in Plantation. "Reese's Pieces are a popular one here," she said. But the staff is selective, she said. "We left the good ones [for the troops]."
Information about participating dentists by zip code is on the Halloween Candy BuyBack website.