Tonight is the night; Halloween.

Just as the sun starts to set and nighttime falls, kids of all ages will be roaming through Ahwatukee Foothills decked out in costumes and on the hunt for candy.

In the event that your kids happen to collect enough bubble gum and lollipops to last them through Christmas, some dental offices are collecting candy in exchange for cash, then sending the candy out to soldiers in war zones.

“This takes a lot of the sugar out of kids’ hands and over to the troops overseas,” said Dr. Rahul G. Kode, of Dental by Design in Ahwatukee.

Through Operation Gratitude, Dental By Design, among others, will be offering $1 for every pound of unopened candy up to two weeks after Halloween.

Kode said the office, located at 4855 E. Warner Road, was able to send more than 150 pounds of candy to the organization last year.

Operation Gratitude sends 100,000 car packages annually to troops in the military. The care packages includes food, entertainment items and even personal letters. The organization’s Halloween Candy Buyback is also a national program.

Ahwatukee Family Dental, 11022 S. 51st St., is accepting candy from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 1. This is the office’s first year doing the buyback program, and staff has high hopes to continue it next year.

“Come one, come all,” said staff member Mindy Smith. “We’ll take whatever they bring.”

Dr. Walter J. Rapacz and his staff at 3646 E. Ray Road were able to send more than 260 pounds of donated candy last year.

Rapacz, along with Ahwatukee Family Dental, will be giving the kids goodie bags during the buyback events this Halloween.

“It’s special because the troops also hand out the candy overseas to civilians,” Smith said.

For more information on the candy buyback program, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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