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Saratoga students send trick-or-treat sweets to troops overseas

Moms and military-minded volunteers plotted out a brilliant strategy: They convinced their kids to give up oodles of sugary Halloween treats and ship them to hungry troops overseas.

And early Friday morning, kindergartners and other students at Argonaut Elementary School in Saratoga kissed their Snickers and Butterfingers goodbye. The children bagged up candy they collected while trick-or-treating, and sent it off to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The hope is that the candy will be collected by Veteran's Day and melting in the mouths of military servicemen and women hopefully in time for Thanksgiving.

"I gave up my favorites," said Leslie Sun, 5. "M&M's, Kit Kats, Nerds "... and oh yeah, lollipops."

"Ooh, look at this one," shouted another kindergartner, holding up a huge Nestle bar.

All the sweets will be funneled to San Jose's Operation Care and Comfort, a non-profit that arranges to truck, ship and mail the supplies to various military units, said founder Julie DeMarin. She started the non-profit under the umbrella of the Santa Clara Valley Red Cross seven years ago. And now, people from all over the country send Halloween candy - and DVDS, batteries, Starbucks coffee and other items - through her organization.

DeMarin said that last year her group sent 4,000 pounds of candy. And since April 2003, DeMarin said her operation has sent 445,000 pounds - more than 200 tons - of care packages to members of the Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard.

Amy Chang, whose son is a kindergartner at Argonaut, was pleased to have found a win-win solution: Curb the amount of sweets her boys eat, and teach Darwin, 5, and his brother, Adam, 4, about charity.

"My kids donated 95 percent of their candy last year,'' Chang said. "I thought it would be a big deal and traumatic for them. But it wasn't at all."

Source: San Jose Mercury News

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