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Kids making packages for the troops for Operation Shoebox (Credit: Joint Base San Antonio, Airman 1st Class Alexis Siekert)
Kids making packages for the troops through Operation Shoebox. (Credit: Joint Base San Antonio, Airman 1st Class Alexis Siekert)

Every Halloween, there is an excessive amount of candy, whether it’s leftover from the party you threw or the result of the kids getting too much trick-or-treating. If you don’t want to throw it away or find it next spring, what do you do with all of it?

[Related: Hey, Women Military Vets and Spouses: This Boot Camp Wants You for Startup Training]

Good news: You can donate it. We’ve put together a list of women-owned organizations that take leftover candy and send it to those in the military:

1. Operation Gratitude

Carolyn Blashek started Operation Gratitude to give hope to soldiers who needed it. The organization sends care packages to the troops, plus first responders, veterans, recruit graduates, military families, and wounded personnel and their caregivers. Every Halloween, Operation Gratitude asks dentists, businesses, and families to host “give back” programs for leftover treats. Or, ship your leftover candy to its facility no later than Nov. 8 if you want to support those who serve.

2. Operation Shoebox

Military mom Mary Harper founded Operation Shoebox in 2003 when she realized that five of her children and two son-in-laws, who were deployed around the world, didn’t receive many care packages or mail. She started an informal care project in her home that quickly escalated, which led to her being acknowledged by the White House for her work. You can ship candy any time of the year to Operation Shoebox, but the organization especially likes to receive bags of candy during the holidays.

[Related: This Former Military Officer is Teaching Young Girls to Be Confident]

3. Soldier’s Angels

Like others on this list, Patti Patton-Bader founded Soldiers’ Angels because she also wanted to do something for the troops — and noticed her son was one of the few people receiving care packages. She was no stranger to being a part of a military family, as her father was a Korean and Vietnam veteran. Her company has received many awards, such as the Secretary of Defense’s Hope Award.  The organization has numerous locations (see a list here) if you prefer to deliver the candy in person, and the kids get goodies for giving away excess candy.

4. Operation Stars and Stripes

Rosalyn Sue Smith started Operation Stars and Stripes in 2001 in honor of a Vietnam War hero, Major George Thompson, whose name was engraved on a missing-in-action bracelet that her godmother wore. To date, over 100,000 packages have been sent to deployed troops. You can send donations of candy to the organization or see if a drive is happening near you.

[Related: The Sweet Success Story of A Lawyer Turned Chocolatier]

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Gwedolen Wilder works as a business strategist to counsel and inspire women to be their own role models.

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