With parents sneaking treats out of plastic pumpkins while their children sleep in sugar comas, John Petek is trying to provide an alternative to the post-Halloween candy overload.
Petek, founder of Health and Wealth Alliance in Waukesha, is working with local dentists to set up donation stations where people can drop off excess candy to send to troops abroad via Operation Gratitude. Depending on the location, kids may get small toys or money in return for their donation.
"Kids can keep their favorites, but they don't need 12 pounds of candy," he said.
Petek said he is working on setting up a nonprofit that will collect candy and other donations four times a year, at Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. He hopes to have donation stations not only in dentist offices, but also eventually in schools and offices.
Petek had a booth set up at the last farmers market of the season outside Brookfield City Hall on Saturday where he saw a steady stream of interested parents.
"The response has been overwhelming," Petek said.
Operation Gratitude sends tens of thousands of care packages to troops every year, and last year sent more than 127.5 tons of candy. The organization says the candy helps troops remember life at home and shows that Americans support them.
Petek said the troops can also give the candy to children in the communities they are stationed in, and the children can provide tips that keep them safe.
"This is actually saving lives and limbs," Petek said. "I'm not in favor of the war, but I'm in favor of helping the troops."
Collection boxes will be at Brookfield Town Hall, 645 N. Janacek Road, 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 5 and at Brookfield Public Library's Community Room, 1900 N. Calhoun Road, 3 to 5:45 p.m. Nov. 6. Anyone who can't make it to those locations can call for a pickup at 262-827-9380.
■ To find out how you can donate to the program, email Petek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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