By Justin Zepeda, Santa Clarita Contributor
Every year after Halloween, Drs. Allen and Kelly Smudde of Santa Clarita Advanced Dentistry open their doors to the community with the same goal in mind – to buy back candy and give back to our local community, schools, and armed forces. Santa Clarita Advanced Dentistry hosted its 9th Annual Operation Gratitude: Halloween Candy Buy Back on November 2 and boy was it something! They had a record-breaking year with 3,943 pounds of candy. They had over 146 participants that helped donate to our troops overseas.
“I was a recipient of Operation Gratitude and I had a box delivered to me in Africa and it made my deployment,” says Captain Kelly Guerra who was present. “I just want to say thank you to everyone, for all of your love and support. When you see us and you say “thank you for your service” it means the world to us, please don’t stop saying that.”
The event had it all. Halloween-themed carnival games such as, the Witch Hat Ring Toss, Zombie Eyeball Toss, Spin-Wheel, Photo Booth, Face Painting, and a letter writing station where each child got the chance to physically hand Thank You letters to our local troops. They had fun prizes and raffles for all the participants. Everyone was a winner tonight. Drs. Allen and Kelly Smudde donated nearly $5,000 dollars to our local community and schools in their one-day event.
“This is so great! We are extremely happy with the event and the HUGE turnout,” says Dr. Kelly. “We collected a record-breaking 3,942 lbs of candy. We’re so excited to give back to our community in a way that has multiple benefits. We donate to our troops; donate to our community and schools.” Through the years, the husband-and-wife team has donated over 1 million dollars to our Santa Clarita Valley. The event had over 41 schools participate with Bridgeport Elementary and Emblem Academy winning the $500 school donations. Bridgeport Elementary had 10 participants, while Emblem Academy donated the most pounds of candy with 461 total pounds. Congrats!
All of the candy and letters received will be sent to our troops serving overseas via Operation Gratitude. The event was fantastic; stay tuned as they look forward to making it bigger and better next year to celebrate their 10 year anniversary donating to our troops overseas via Operation Gratitude.