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The Giving “Spirit”: Giving Back for Halloween

Halloween isn’t here yet, and you’re already strategizing what to do with all that candy so your kids don’t get a two-week sugar high, and you don’t snack on it until Christmas. And those beautiful costumes you bought that the kids will grow out of next year? Ever consider donating them? Halloween is so focused on how much candy we can amass that giving back is often overlooked until Thanksgiving. But not every “spirit” has to be scary on Halloween! Why shouldn’t Halloween be a giving holiday, too? Another opportunity to think of those who don’t have as much as us? Check out these charities that accept donations of leftover Halloween candy and gently used costumes:


Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude sends more than 150,000 care packages annually to U.S. troops stationed overseas, veterans, wounded warriors, new recruits, first responders, care givers, and military families. Their mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our active duty and veteran communities. Help say “Thank You” to these servicemen and women and their families by giving them a taste of home and holiday comfort. Check the map to see what businesses are participating near us where you can drop off your leftover candy! You can also ship directly to the organization. Visit the website for more information about how to donate. Deadline is November 15th.

Operation Trick-or-Treating for the Troops

Founded in 2001 in memory of a Vietnam War hero, Operation Stars & Stripes, Inc. is an all-volunteer not-for-profit  organization that supports active duty service members at home and abroad, as well as veterans and military families. Every year during Operation Trick-or-Treating for the Troops, they accept donations of excess Halloween candy, which will be used to fill the stockings for their Operation Holiday Stockings Campaign. Packages of unopened candy can be sent to the organization’s Georgia headquarters. Specific shipping info can be found on the website.

Jersey Cares Halloween Costume Drive

Every October, Jersey Cares helps children living in New Jersey’s shelters to have a happy Halloween by collecting new and gently used children’s costumes, masks, accessories and make-up. So don’t throw out your costume! Save it until next year, when donations open up again in September.

Wyckoff PTO Economy Shop

Our neighbors right across the street, The Wyckoff PTO Economy Shop accepts donations of gently used items throughout the school year. 100% of the net profits are distributed equally to the PTO’s  7 schools. In the past 4 years, they distributed over $175,000 to Wyckoff Public School District Schools and Ramapo-Indian Hills High Schools. If you and your kids don’t plan on reusing your costumes (or need to get clear out past years’ ones), consider donating them.

Finally, don’t forget about your local soup kitchen, shelter, food pantry, retirement, or nursing home. Many take donations of unopened candy for residents and guests. It’s worth calling to find out if they accept treats.

By: Tracy L. Nieradka