Now that Halloween is over, you might be wondering what to do with all that candy!  The students in Mrs. Talusan’s 3rd grade class at Columbus Elementary were excited to learn about a great organization that collects left-over Halloween candy and sends it to the US troops at home and abroad.  Operation Gratitude is a non-profit organization that sends care packages to servicemen and women as a way of saying Thank You for their service.  It’s a perfect way to teach children about patriotism and service as they donate their “hard-earned” candy.  The positive feedback from the troops is tremendous.  Not only does the candy remind them of home and give them a small something to enjoy at a time when they have few luxuries, but many times the candy is also shared with children in war-torn areas which helps build trust between the Americans serving there and the locals.
 
This year, Mrs. Talusan’s students encouraged all the classes in the school to donate a portion of their Halloween haul.  The grade with the highest tally of candy (by weight) was declared the winner.  The response was overwhelming.  By the final day of the collection, there were dozens of boxes stacked around the room just waiting to be sorted.  For nearly two hours, the children put their math skills to the test weighing individual gallon-size ziplock bags stuffed with candy on digital scales.  They used their higher order thinking skills (HOTS) to calculate the total weight of donated candy in grams for each grade.  This year’s winner was 3rd grade.  Overall, Columbus Elementary donated 169,764 grams of candy (that’s about 375 pounds)! They also added toothbrushes and toothpaste to the bags so the troops can make sure to take care of their teeth after enjoying all that candy.
 
The project was a huge success all around.  The troops benefit from the appreciation shown to them, the kids benefit from learning about doing good for others while at the same time improving their math skills, and even the parents benefit from having that much less Halloween candy hanging around the house.  Great job kids!