Jockey Hollow Dentistry is participating in Operation Gratitude for the second year, and area residents are embracing the idea. Under the program, area trick-or-treaters under 16 years old can bring their extra candy to the office at 5 Cold Hill Road South, Mendham, where Dr. Fenichel will purchase the treats for $1 a pound up to eight pounds per child. Adults may donate extra candy. And trick-or-treaters wasted no time bringing in their treats the morning after the snowy Halloween.
Mary Laurita, 12, of Mendham arrived with her mother and three pounds of candy. Mary, who had dressed as a lifeguard, walked out $3 richer – and with less candy to damage her teeth. Although not a patient at Jockey Hollow Dentistry, it’s the second year she participated in Operation Gratitude. Dr. Fenichel said Mary and her friends were typical, and that the program serves everyone well.
“Halloween means lots of candy all at once,” said Dr. Fenichel. “Children don’t need to eat all the sweets they bring home. Not eating all that candy will prevent a lot of cavities, and sending it to our heroes overseas will give them something to enjoy.”
Operation Gratitude is part of a well-established national program that annually sends 100,000 care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named U.S. service members deployed in hostile regions. The program also has divisions that look after service member’s children and assist returning injured warriors. Each Halloween, the organization encourages the candy buy-back. Dentists pay to ship the donated candy to California.
Dr. Fenichel said she became involved with the program last year because many of the families at Jockey Hollow Dentistry have members serving in the military. The dental office collected more than 200 pounds of candy last year.
“Jockey Hollow Dentistry is a family-oriented practice and we develop close relationships with our patients,” she said. “Some of them have children in the service. I know several young men and women who are serving their country and I think of them as we’re doing this. It’s a small gesture to send a little taste of this fun-oriented holiday to them.”
Dr. Fenichel said the candy she collects will serve two other purposes.
“I’m told the troops love getting the candy,” she said. “Packages like these are great reminders from home that we’re thinking of them and that we appreciate everything they’re doing. I also understand that the troops enjoy some of the candy, but they also give some of it to the children in the villages where winning hearts is as important as winning military victories.”
One thing Dr. Fenichel says she’s not worried about is contributing to dental problems in combat zones.
“A lot of people ask us about that,” she acknowledged. “Service members are older and their teeth are better developed, so they’re not as susceptible to cavities as young children are. In addition, they understand the need to rinse, brush and floss after eating the sweets.”
Children can bring their candy to Jockey Hollow Dentistry through Nov. 15. Dr. Fenichel and her team will then box the candy and other items and ship them to California, where they will be repackaged as individual care packages. For more information, call Jockey Hollow Dentistry at (973) 543-4828 or click on www.jockeyhollowdentistry.com.
Dr. Fenichel is the principal at Jockey Hollow Dentistry, a general dentistry practice in Mendham, N.J. A graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Dr. Fenichel welcomes patients of all ages.