A Chanhassen dentist has a sweet deal for Halloween trick-or-treaters.

Tori-Thuy Conrad, the owner of Tweet Pediatric Dentistry, is offering to pay kids a buck a pound for up to 10 pounds of the candy they collect from their annual door-knocking rounds.

“It’s a healthy alternative,” said Conrad, whose buyback event is set for November 1-2. The event helps parents cope with the candy overflow they face after Halloween, and helps Conrad connect to potential patients by serving the community in a fun way.

“We always tell the kids to save a baggie of their favorite candy,” Conrad said, and then donate the rest. The candy is then distributed to different organizations like women and men’s shelters in the Twin Cities. People Reaching Out to People (PROP) is one of the beneficiaries of Tweet Pediatric’s buyback program. Another, Operation Gratitude, assembles care packages for overseas troops.

Like other pediatric dentists, Conrad encourages kids to eat candy responsibly, and to share the bulk of their bounty.

Conrad has held the event for the four years her dentistry has been open.

“Last year we got about 400 pounds of candy,” she said.

“We try to divide the candy donations,” Conrad said. She and her husband expect to ship 100 pounds of the candy to Operation Gratitude, whose offices are in California. “It’s about a couple hundred dollars for every 100 pounds,” she said.

The rest of the candy goes to PROP food shelf or other community groups.

PROP development director Mary Brown said that the candy they get is a fun treat for kids who may not be able to go trick or treating.

“We certainly strive to be a healthy food shelf, but we serve people of all ages — lots of kids — and it’s fun for them to have a treat once in a while,” Brown said.

Brown said that PROP serves about 1,100 households across Eden Prairie and Chanhassen. They get most of their donations in bulk, from diapers to candy, she said. “I’ve volunteered here for 20 years and just started working here for 6 months,” Brown said. “When you see what one piece of candy can do in terms of seeing someone smile, it’s sweet.”

Operation Gratitude collects candy from about 1,000 dentists a year, and works with schools and businesses to collect candy and other donations. Carolyn Blashek, the organization’s founder, said it has received over 500,000 pounds of candy a year for the past three years. One weekend a month, the care packages are assembled with 14 staff members and 500-1000 volunteers a day, she said.

Blashek said that sending the candy is one way to show community support and that there are people who care. Blashek said she founded Operation Gratitude after trying to enlist in the military after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, but was told that she was too old.

“I wanted to find a way to show my support as a civilian for the military,” she said.

Along with candy, they also package other snacks, games and hygiene products to troops in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Iraq.


Destanie Martin-Johnson is University of Minnesota journalism student on assignment for the Star Tribune.