Operation Gratitude 2010 HUGE Success

Hard to see the candy, but it is in there!

For the 2009 holidays, as part of our annual Maintain, Don’t Gain program at work, I facilitated the collection of unwanted Halloween candy. The day after Halloween, and over the course of the week, people brought me their Halloween candy and shipped it to an organization that puts it in the care packages for our troops serving overseas. We collected about 65 pounds of candy in 2009.

Fast forward to 2010, and think a bit bigger. With a team, I got the entire UNM campus involved. Using the Staff Council, we promoted the program and started our collection November 1 and wrapped it up on Veteran’s Day, November 11. We promoted the program not as weight management, but as a way to give back and share with the troops serving overseas. Having no idea what the response would be, I hoped to double last year’s collection and reach 150 pounds.

SHOCK AND AWE: nearly 550 pounds of candy collected throughout the UNM campus. I heard a rumor that the Children’s Campus (the childcare center) trick-or-treated for the troops and donated all of their candy (sniff-tissue, please). I think we got the most from them!

I am grateful. The campus, the teamwork and everyone who collected, donated and supported this event: THANK YOU. The team at Operation Gratitude has also extended their thanks when I tweeted our sweet success. This is what Operation Gratitude does with the candy:

Operation Gratitude annually sends 100,000 care packages containing approximately 50 assorted snacks, toiletries, entertainment items and personal letters. The Halloween candy is added in by the handfuls to fill in every space in the box.

“Halloween candy reminds the troops of the great traditions we celebrate at home– which they are protecting by serving in harm’s way” said Operation Gratitude Founder Carolyn Blashek. “In addition, the troops give the candy to the children in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the ‘winning hearts and minds’ strategy.  Often the children will provide critical information in return, prompting one Marine to write: ‘You are not just putting smiles on our faces, you are saving our lives.'”

As a dietitian, I can’t help but add that I am very happy that the UNM community donated all of that candy since it is not going into our mouths and not going to “waists.” Every little bit helps.

And for fun…550 pounds of candy, I estimated the following:  

  • 300 pounds of chocolate candy (average Reese’s, M&M’s, snickers and all the others)
  • 100 pounds of Twizzlers, Starburst, and other chewy candies
  • 100 pound of hard candies including lollipops
  • 50 pounds of bubble gum

Is about: 1,086,700 calories (yes, that is over 1 million calories)

Which is about 310.5 pounds we aren’t gaining this year!

Happy, happy holiday’s everyone!


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