Tri-Cities' kids support the troops in 'Operation Cash for Candy'

CASH FOR CANDY NEWS RELEASE -- The third annual "Operation Cash for Candy" is underway! An expanding group of area health professionals along with Numerica Credit Union have again joined together to take candy away from kids this Halloween! It may sound harsh but it's all in good fun and it's for a great cause - to help the kids and our community say thank you to our military troops fighting to keep our world safe.

It may seem a little strange to see local health professionals buying leftover candy for $1.00 a pound, but "it's for a noble cause" says event organizer Dr. Lee Ostler, a Richland dentist. "There is way too much tooth decay and sugar in our children's diets and this event teaches good health principles. Plus it gives us another way to say thanks to our service men and women. The kids actually have a blast doing this." When the kids come in and give up their candy, Ostler notes that the kids write a short note or draw a picture to send along with the "sweet offerings" going to the troops. "The kids really get into that" says Ostler.

As to how the event came to the Mid-Columbia, Dr. Ostler, now a Board Member for the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health says that a fellow board member organized the idea on the national level and that he decided to adapt it to our local region. "It's been a hit each year and has now expanded to reach into the entire Region and allows more children to participate in saying thanks."

Mindi Irvine, a physical therapist at Oasis Physical Therapy in Pasco says that "too much sugar in the diet can lead to a long list of health problems, including being overweight, inactivity, diabetes and a host of other problems as they grow into adults."

Dr. David Hamilton of Dentistry for Kids in Kennewick states that with sugar consumption rising each year we need to help our children understand the dangers of too much and too frequent candy eating. "It used to be we'd see apples and oranges in the Trick-or-Treat bags, but not so much anymore". Dr. Walker, another children's dentist in the Tri-Cities says that tooth decay is still a prominent worry for dentists and parents alike. He tells his little patients (and their parents) that "sugar feeds 'tooth bugs' which make acid which in turn eats holes in teeth". He believes that "Operation Cash for Candy" will get some extra candy off the streets and help send a message that moderation and good oral hygiene are important for oral health."

Area Oral Surgeons Dr's. Jon Crawford, and Ron Marsh, and Todd Cooper agree that decreasing and controlling candy consumption has positive health benefits for the mouth as well as the body. "There is a definite trend toward the ill-effects of poor nutrition which show up as tooth decay, obesity, crooked teeth and mal-aligned jaw bones", notes Cooper. Dr. Marsh adds that "this kind of project sends a message that too much candy isn't healthy, and contributes to weight gain and hyperactivity".

Dr. Ken Howard, a Kennewick general dentist believes that parents can make a big difference by using this project to help their children learn important lessons about good health. Dr. Mike Brier, a Richland dentist notes that "paying a buck per pound should take some of the sting out of taking the candy away from the kids". He along with Dr. Jim Leonard and Rolf Wuerch, area endodontists, served in the military and are thrilled to be involved in a project that says thank you to the troops and at the same time does something positive for kid's health.

The local "Cash for Candy" project is now working with our very own local Tri-City based "Operation Thank You", a veterans group and their families and supporters who are working to build patriotism and support the military. Each year Operation Thank You sends care packages to the troops and accepts donations including our local "Cash for Candy" buy-back project. The Cash-for-Candy idea is a big hit with local area veterans who already understand the power of getting these care packages, plus they say that the donated candy is put to good use in working with and befriending the "locals" to get intelligence information about IEDs and other dangers in the war zones.

More information about Operation Cash for Candy is available at the web site: which lists the participating healthcare offices and drop-off time and location information, as well as features a "Local Heroes - Wall of Fame" listing of some area veterans being recognized for their service to our country.