ANDERSON, Ind. — Dr. Gregg Horstmeyer has sent more than 500 pounds of candy overseas to U.S. troops, thanks to donations he gets this time of year.
Horstmeyer, a dentist whose office is at 2038 Broadway, is participating in his sixth year of a candy buyback program to keep Halloween-eager children from overindulging in sweets and to show support for the military.
But Horstmeyer says don’t worry — if someone from the area is serving overseas and gets a cavity from his candy, he will fill the cavity for free.
“The way I look at it, if they are risking their life, I am willing to give them free dentistry,” he said. “Plus it gets the candy out of the mouths of the kids in Anderson.”
Halloween Candy Buyback supports Operation Gratitude, a national program where care packages are sent to the military.
Horstmeyer purchases candy from people coming to his office for $1 a pound, up to five pounds per family, and then he sends the candy to the military support group.
Horstmeyer says that sugar consumption by children increases about 2 percent each year and currently children around the world are consuming about 50 million tons. He said candy is not only bad for children’s teeth, it can lead to hyperactivity and weight gain.
Danielle Olney, a dietitian for Community Hospital Anderson, said the buyback program is a great way to keep children from eating too much candy.
She said caregivers should also try to make sure children eat a healthy meal or snack before trick-or-treating to prevent the little ones from filling up on sweets. Using small trick-or-treat bags that fill up quicker is a good idea to keep the amount of candy collected to a minimum, she said.
Olney said it is important to teach children that everything is OK in moderation.
In years past, local hospitals would X-ray candy that children collected to make sure it was safe for consumption, but Randy Titus, a spokesman for St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital, said hospitals no longer offer that service.
“We do not want to give parents a false sense that the candy is safe,” he said. “We recommend the parents inspect the candy and children should only be going to houses you know and trust.”
Horstmeyer says his goal this year is to have people put their “money where their mouth is.”
“I think about half of the people don’t want the money anyway,” Horstmeyer said. “People know we are doing it for the troops and for the kids.”
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