Johns Creek dentist buys up kids’ candy

Post-Halloween program pays cash for treats

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – It’s no trick, dentist Danny King pays cash money to youngsters who turn in their treats at the Children’s Dental Zone at Old Alabama Road and Jones Road. For four years now, he has made the offer and each year eager moms and sharp children come in for the money.

It’s the day after Halloween, and the kids come in to do a little bartering. Evidently, candy is sweet but cash is sweeter.

“The reason is simple. First, it gets the candy away from the young children. That helps fight cavities and the whole obesity issue,” King said. “For the kids, Halloween is mostly about taking. This teaches them about giving back.”

That is where Operation Gratitude comes in. That is the nonprofit organization sending CARE packages to the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Last year, King collected more than 1,000 pounds of candy to send to the military overseas in those CARE packages, and he estimated 600 to 700 families came in to donate.

King’s offer to the kids is $1 per pound or a Chick-fil-A coupon. He also has a face painter, balloons and an inflatable jumping gym outside, so the youngsters feel like it’s a mini-festival instead of just handing over hard-won goodies to some doctor.

“And about 80 percent of the candy is just donated. But the kids have a good time either way. Then they sign cards that go along with the packages to the soldiers. Sometimes, they write us back, and the kids get to read those too,” he said.

But the main goal is to give children awareness about candy.

“We tell our kids to pick out 10 pieces to keep, and then we send the rest off,” he said.

Out at the jumping gym, Spec. 5 Kaete Edwards has her nephew in tow to play and donate the candy. Although she has not had to serve overseas, she said she appreciates what the doctor is doing. She and her husband, Sgt. Johnny Edwards, are stationed at Fort Gillem in Atlanta.

“I think it is a really good thing. It teaches the children about not eating too much candy, and it remembers our soldiers overseas. That does double duty,” she said.