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Halloween of 2007 was over, but Rebecca Kahlenberg was still haunted by one thing: candy. She knew there had to be a positive way to pare down her kids' huge stash; the trick was to find a charity that would benefit from the treats. "It suddenly dawned on me that our troops could use a sweet taste of home," says Kahlenberg, of Bethesda, Maryland. She hit the Internet and quickly came upon Boatsie's Boxes, a nonprofit organization that delivers care packages to the troops. Her discovery turned out to be an ideal -- and timely -- solution.
Members of Boatsie's Boxes, located in West Virginia, were organizing their annual "Operation Christmas Stocking" drive. The group assembles thousands of stockings full of donated candy, games, toiletries and phone cards for the troops overseas. When Kahlenberg asked if she could donate leftover Halloween treats gathered by her mothers' group, MoverMoms, for the stockings, she received an enthusiastic yes. "I learned that the soldiers love getting candy -- even gummy eyeballs were a go!" she says.
MoverMoms quickly set up a candy drive and sent an e-mail blast to friends and neighbors to spread the word. The result? The group collected hundreds of bags full of candy. Kahlenberg was thrilled by the community's generosity: "Everyone was so willing to give, especially the kids."
Last Halloween Kahlenberg and the Mover Moms organized another candy collection for the troops, and they plan to do it again this year. "It's become a tradition," she says. "Families are so happy to be able to do something good with candy they don't need. It truly is a win-win situation."
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, October 2009.