Two teachers at Woodview School in Grayslake had a little idea for students who went trick-or-treating last week.
Instead of keeping an entire load of Halloween candy, the kids were asked to bring some to to school so it could be donated to U.S. troops overseas through Operation Gratitude, which plans to ship 60,000 holiday care packages.
Health/physical education instructor Steve Feldman, who worked with first-grade teacher Jennifer Miller on the collection, said the response from Woodview students and parents went way beyond their expectations of 10 or 15 pounds of treats. An official weigh-in showed 305 pounds of candy arrived by Tuesday's deadline.
"Every year, all I hear about is all the kids who bring in all the candy and I just kind of felt like, what's a better option than having all the kids eating all this candy?" Feldman said. "From a health standpoint, I kind of wanted to get it away from the kids."
Cathy Santelle, principal of the building for kindergarten through fourth grade at Grayslake Elementary District 46, said the inaugural effort was impressive all around.
"I think it's amazing the kids have really responded as well as they have so quickly," Santelle said.
Feldman said he went to Miller last week and asked what could be done with the students' excess Halloween treats.
Miller said she thought of a former pupil now in the Army and stationed in Germany who worked with her on a project last summer. She said she sent an email to him asking if the troops could use candy -- an idea he supported because a taste of home is good for morale and helps when on duty for long nights with little sleep.
That led to Feldman going online and finding information about Operation Gratitude. He then gave a letter to students, which they were asked to bring home to their parents Oct. 31 regarding the candy idea.
"It slowly started coming in," Feldman said. "And then, before you know it, I have eight boxes. Big, 20-by-12 boxes full of candy."
Miller said her first-graders learned about sharing with others, doing some good for the military and making a healthy choice by not eating as much candy. Student Mallory Barrows was among the children who spent a portion of their Tuesday morning sorting the treats.
"It's exciting because we're shipping it to the Army and we're getting rid of it because we don't need this much candy," Mallory said.
Feldman said Gentle Care Dentistry in Mundelein will handle shipping for the 305 pounds of candy. He said he hopes the treats-for-troops expands next year to all seven of District 46's schools.