Person of the Week: Dentist Chris Kammer Sends Leftover Halloween Candy to Troops

Chris Kammer turned his worst nightmare, Halloween, into a sweet opportunity.

Oct. 29, 2010— -- Halloween is the sweetest holiday for kids, but for dentists, it's a horror.

"Normally, you wouldn't put your child in front of a shopping bag full of candy and say, 'Go ahead, have it, enjoy it,'" dentist Chris Kammer said. "When you have childhood [tooth] decay on the rise and obesity is almost epidemic proportions, Halloween is a brand new nightmare."

Kammer, a dentist from Wisconsin, came up with a creative and no-cavity solution. Four years ago, he started offering to buy back his littlest patients' leftover loot for $1 a pound.

"We are, by no means, the Halloween Grinch. We understand Halloween is Americana, kids are going to go out and they're going to trick-or-treat," Kammer said. "But, we'll buy back the candy that sits around all week, that they just don't really want but eat it because it's there."

Kammer admitted that even his own kids were suspicious about the idea that young trick-or-treaters would actually turn in their candy.

"The kids looked at me and said, 'Dad, that's a terrible idea,'" Kammer said.

The children were wrong.

Halloween Candy Buy Back Program

Kammer's simple idea has grown into a national movement -- the Halloween Candy Buy Back program. Thousands of dentists participate every year from almost every state. The amount of candy they've been able to collect is simply astonishing: 122,000 pounds last year alone.

Kammer said that he was inspired by his own father, Jack Kammer, who was a dentist, too.

Jack Kammer also was a local philanthropist well known for starting a popular Christmas lights festival.

"Giving to the community and giving to the profession are things I just naturally got from my father," Kammer said. "Noticing the selfless way that my father gave back to the community and, in many ways, in dentistry, certainly was inspirational to me to do the same thing."

So, like father like son, Kammer decided to give back in a big way.

To Learn More About the Halloween Candy Buy Back Program, Click Here

Sending Candy To Troops

The Halloween Candy Buy Back program partnered with Operation Gratitude, a program that focuses on sending care packages to American troops serving overseas.

This Halloween season, 60,000 care packages will be sent -- including overall care package number 600,000 as a result of Kammer's brain child.

"To the troops, I think candy is a remembrance of home [because] they can't be at home on Halloween," Kammer said. "I want them to know we haven't forgotten about them, that little children are out collecting candy for them on Halloween night."

One trick-or-treater understood the significance of her contribution.

"I feel good that it goes to the troops," six-year-old Dasia Ray said.

Kammer has created a real pay-it-forward model, with the troops themselves passing on the candy to local children as a way to foster relationships. A small treat becomes a vessel to teach children about giving -- here in the United States and a world away.

"It gives you that warm feeling you can't describe," Kammer said. "But I think that's why we all live, for that warm feeling, to help each other."

To Learn More About the Halloween Candy Buy Back Program, Click Here