Craig kids show gratitude by donating 35 pounds of candy to soldiers | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig kids show gratitude by donating 35 pounds of candy to soldiers

A dental office persuading its patients to forgo eating sweets is nothing new. However, one Craig location is putting a supply of Twizzlers, Starburst, Snickers and other tasty treats to good use.

As part of the nonprofit organization Operation GratitudeOperation Gratitude, the office of Dr. Neal Fenton collected about 35 pounds of Halloween candy provided by local kids for donation to active duty soldiers., the office of Dr. Neal Fenton collected about 35 pounds of Halloween candy provided by local kids for donation to active duty soldiers.

Operation Gratitude, the office of Dr. Neal Fenton collected about 35 pounds of Halloween candy provided by local kids for donation to active duty soldiers.

Jolene Rhyne, 10, and Ayla Weston, 9, both said that they had decided to donate their Halloween stash before they even rang their first doorbell, each bringing in roughly two pounds.

"I wanted to show how much I appreciate them," Jolene said of the military personnel who will enjoy the sugar rush that she helped provide.

Elias Browning, 12, said he and his younger brothers were happy to each donate about two pounds of trick-or-treat proceeds.

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"We want them to have a good time even though they're still fighting," he said. "Thank you for serving."

Elias's mother, Karina, was delighted that the office was taking up the collection.

"I just think it's awesome to show our troops that we love them, we're thinking about them, and we appreciate them," she said.

Besides the larger benefit of less cavities and showing their thanks to the Armed Forces, kids also had the chance to pick up one toy per pound of candy as part of a buy-back through Fenton's office.

Cathy Copeland, office manager, said she was able to extend the project a week longer than intended thanks to the big response in its first year.

"We'll be sending a lot of pictures of them 'surrendering' their candy, too," she said.

Copeland said all the candy will be shipped off to its military recipients starting this week and will ideally make it to its destination by Christmas alongside other parcels from Operation Gratitude.

Craig's contribution will be going to the men and women of the USS Makin IslandUSS Makin Island, where native son and United States Marine Zach Hansen is currently deployed., where native son and United States Marine Zach Hansen is currently deployed.

USS Makin Island, where native son and United States Marine Zach Hansen is currently deployed.

Zach's mother, Debbie Hansen, was part of the inspiration for Copeland to arrange for her office to be part of the effort. Debbie has also been involved in providing larger care packages for soldiers, essentially "adopting" them until they get back home.

"Our community is great like that, they don't even know these people and they do so much to support them," she said.

While all kinds of sundry items are appreciated by those who serve, one thing sticks out for them.

"They love getting letters from kids," Debbie said.

Among the children who contributed were Ty Ivy, Thane Nielson, Ryker Nielson, Titus Ruybalid, Cassius Ruybalid, Olivia Gustafson, Bridget Gustafson, Riley Thompson, Blake Sauer, Paul Sauer, Pepper Rhyne, Jolene Rhyne, Ayla Weston, Reece Weston, Keira Weston, Treavon Wilson, Tobias Wilson, Elim Browning, Esiah Browning and Elias Browning.

For more information on contributing care packages, email Debbie Hansen at MarineMom@gmail.comMarineMom@gmail.com. For more information on Operation Gratitude, visit . For more information on Operation Gratitude, visit Facebook.com/OperationGratitudeFacebook.com/OperationGratitude..

MarineMom@gmail.com. For more information on Operation Gratitude, visit Facebook.com/OperationGratitude.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

Children who contributed:

Ty Ivy, Thane Nielson, Ryker Nielson, Titus Ruybalid, Cassius Ruybalid, Olivia Gustafson, Bridget Gustafson, Riley Thompson, Blake Sauer, Paul Sauer, Pepper Rhyne, Jolene Rhyne, Ayla Weston, Reece Weston, Keira Weston, Treavon Wilson, Tobias Wilson, Elim Browning, Esiah Browning and Elias Browning.