EMERSON, N.J. -- In the 10 years Dr. Archer Katz has run his candy buy-back program, he's never seen a result like this year: Over 250 kids brought in their candy to support U.S. troops and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
This year's haul of about 570 pounds beat last year's record -- a wimpy-by-comparison 90 pounds -- by miles.
Katz and his office, Emerson Dental Arts, offered kids $10 Toys "R" Us gift cards in exchange for their candy. As the Daily Voice reported last month, the candy will be shipped to Operation Gratitude and on to deployed soldiers from there.
"It was hard to gauge how many kids we would get," said Lisa Karpowich, Katz's marketing and social media manager. "Dr. Katz had to get so many gift cards, so frequently, that his credit card got suspended. The credit card company suspected fraud!"
The Emerson dentist also matches the gift cards' dollar amounts and makes a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on behalf of the participating kids. This year's donation will be $2,600, Karpowich said.
"The response from the community was tremendous," Katz said.
We gave out around 40 gift cards last year; this year we’ve given out over 250. We challenged the community to beat that record, and they delivered. Now we can send our troops more candy and make the biggest donation to St. Jude's in our 10 years of doing the program. It was really nice to see the parents explaining to their kids where their candy is going and what the St. Jude donation is for. That’s really what it's all about.
This win-win-win program also helps children lower their risk of tooth decay and related oral health problems by working on moderation.
"One of the most touching things," added Karpowich, "was that a couple of kids were going to use their gift card to buy toys and then donate them to Toys for Tots. It was such a sweet gesture. It got us thinking that maybe we should do a toy drive over the holiday season too, so we're working on that now."For more information about Katz's dental practice, call 201-261-3364 or visit its website or Facebook page.