Local media attention generally occurs within one week of Halloween. But when it hits, it really explodes! So don’t be frustrated if no one is paying attention to you yet. Contact all those media people, even if your event was well publicized last year. Trust me, they forgot about you and need to hear from you again!
If you are mailing any financial donations, please make checks out to and send separately from the candy (with a note referencing the candy) to:
PO Box 260257
All financial donations will be acknowledged. If you would like to receive an acknowledgment for the donated candy, please include your name and address inside the shipment. Acknowledgments will be sent within three months. Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3) organization; donations are tax deductible as provided by law.
Over estimate for goody bags and give-aways! More kids will come this year than last year, and even more the year after that! It is better to be over prepared for the throngs of candy donors than to unexpectedly run out of supplies.
Have your shipping boxes ready and waiting. The candy can be dumped into them right away rather than transferred at a later time. This makes it much easier on you and your staff! And the kids can see how much others have given and how their own donations will be sent. You'll get shock factor, trust me!
Find a local business to donate boxes to the cause! You can offer to promote THEIR name with your event, and most are eager to help with this cause. Finally, the same-size boxes are MUCH easier to pack up and send.
Ask local businesses to co-sponsor the event with donation of coupons, samples, etc. Do this as early as possible. Don't wait for them to find you! You have to cold-call or stop in, then follow up once or twice, and finally stop by to pick up the donations. Make sure to mention that you will be promoting them to all of these families and through the media in exchange for their generosity.
Send a personal letter of appreciation to all your sponsors along with pictures of the event, your business card, and even a great offer for their employees.
Make sure your patients know what you are doing! From sending out a short letter to your active patient database to letting it all take place in your office while patients are waiting, your patients will appreciate what you are doing and hopefully bring their own children in.
Cash donations are always welcome! Ask your favorite banks or credit unions to chip in to help defray those expensive shipping costs. You want to be the fun collection center, not the entire factory!
Find out if major distributors, such as the vendors you buy your dental supplies from, will donate toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss for the soldiers! They will need it after eating all the candy you send. You can be sure that business people will see the value in donating for this terrific, popular cause. Make it a community event!
At least one office provided a big card for children to sign for the troops. What a great idea this is, and how easy would it be to set up a small table with posterboard and markers? Or find some inexpensive, blank cards that the kids can write their own message in. This creates fun for small children and will win big points with the soldiers. Just think of the servicemen and -women who open a package with a card like this! Make their day brighter and their jobs a little easier with a heartfelt greeting from home. Make color copies if you are sending multiple boxes.
Ask parents to fill out informational cards while they wait in line to weigh their candy. Then your staff can just take the card, write down the weight of the donation, and keep it for your tracking information. Make sure to get the child's age and name and the parent's phone number and e-mail address. It will give the parents something to do AND free up your staff to have more fun with the kids! Give out something as an incentive, such as the chance to win an iPod or a big gift from your office. Find out if someone can donate a door prize like this!
Have the children separate the chocolate from the non-chocolate candy after you have weighed them in! Please send in separate cartons, marked "Chocolate" or "Non-Chocolate."
"Just wanted to let you know we had great success with our candy buyback. 500-plus pounds of candy!!! We had many people not accept the cash, just asked us to use it towards mailing the candy. We have been the talk of the town! Terri from Henry Windle's office in Beaver, PA