How to Donate Your Leftover Halloween Candy

Dentists may also pay to take those cavity-causing sweets off your hands.
Does your candy bucket overfloweth?
Does your candy bucket overfloweth? / Onfokus/E+/Getty Images

Rather than confronting a weepy trick-or-treating child with an empty bowl because they bought too little candy, shoppers tend to buy in bulk. Which means that, come November 1—whether you were trick-or-treating or simply handing out candy—there could be pounds of sugar-packed temptation still sitting in your house.

The good news: You can remove the risk of indulging in too much sugar and do some good at the same time. A number of charitable organizations take leftover candy and send it to troops stationed overseas.

Operation Gratitude, which had sent care packages of candy to both troops and first responders through its Halloween Candy Give Back Program since 2007, has paused their program. But there are still several ways to donate your unused sweets. Treats for Troops collects candy for those who serve in the military, and kids can even earn buyback prizes for donating their sugar-filled goodies. Operation Shoebox collects candy for troops throughout the year, beyond just Halloween.

You can also check with your local Ronald McDonald House, as a lot of its locations take unopened candy to distribute to the families they help. Nursing homes and food banks may accept your excess treats as well.

Some local businesses—often dentists—even offer buy-back programs, paying as much as $1 for each pound of candy returned. Not all buy-back programs offer cold hard cash, though: Some kids may have to be content with trading their candy in for a toothbrush or some other dental products.

A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2023.