Shortly after Halloween kids will get an incentive to give up their sweet tooth for cold, hard cash.

Several Ahwatukee Foothills dentists are participating in programs that allow kids to make money by selling their pre-wrapped candy back to their offices. The candy will then be sent to men and women in the military serving overseas.

On Nov. 2 Rapacz Dental will host "Operation Buy Back." From 2 to 6 p.m. the Ahwatukee-based office will pay kids $1 per pound of donated candy up to $5. In addition, people will be able to sign cards for the soldiers.

"It's really great to see because a lot of the military people don't get any type of goodies either for Halloween or for Christmas," said Shelley Miller Rapacz, office manager at Rapacz Dental. "It's just another way of saying ‘thank you' to (the troops)."

The dentist's office is also giving away goody bags for the kids, as well as raffle prizes for adults, Rapacz said. The goody bags will include items like toothbrushes and toothpaste.

"Everything's kind of healthy," she added.

Kids and parents who can't make it to the event are free to donate candy at Rapacz's office any time until Nov. 4. The dentist said the program doesn't just help the troops; it also benefits the community by getting teeth-decaying candy out of kids' hands while also improving their self esteem.

"We want kids to feel good about giving their candy away," Rapacz said.

Design by Dental, another office operating in Ahwatukee Foothills, is offering a similar program, called "Cash for Candy." The program was conceived by Dr. Rahul Kode, a cosmetic dentist working in the office, who said he wanted to do something good for the troops.

"It's going to be great," Kode said. "We just hope that it grows."

He said that his office will also give children $1 for every pound of candy they bring in. The program will continue for about two weeks after Halloween, he said. No official deadline for donations has been set.

Cash for Candy is currently independent of other organizations, such as Operation Buy Back, but may team up with them in the future, Kode said. At the moment, Dental by Design plans to ship the candy overseas themselves.

Neither program requires appointments. Children can just come in with their parents to sell their candy.

Rapacz and Kode both said they plan to host a similar event again next year.

"It's a win-win situation for everyone," Rapacz said.

See videos from troops benefiting from Operation Buy Back and its parent program Operation Gratitude at www.halloweencandybuyback.com.

Dental by Design is located at 4855 E. Warner Road. For more information on that program, call (480) 753-9063.

No official deadline has been set for the Cash for Candy Program at Rapacz Dental, 3646 E. Ray Road. For more information on that program, call (480) 759-4501.

Josh Snyder is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a senior at Arizona State University.

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