April 16, 2014

Elyria
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Kids cash in candy for a sweet deal


Trick-or-treaters make good on dentist’s Halloween buy-back offer

ELYRIA — Perhaps there is no better person than a child to explain why dozens of children would turn in perfectly good candy — about 300 pounds in roughly two hours — the day after Halloween.

And turn it over to a dentist, no less.

STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE
Looking forlorn just for the moment, Bryce Corbley, 6, of LaGrange, gets his Halloween candy weighed at Scott Nagy’s dental practice on Ohio Street in Elyria.

On Thursday night, Carter Wright, 6, of Avon stood in the hallway at Elyria dentist Scott Nagy’s office on Ohio Street with his mother. Just minutes earlier, he traded in five pounds of Halloween candy that he had collected the night before.

In exchange, Carter was given $5, since the going rate at this unusual event was a dollar for every pound of sweetness.  

Here’s Carter’s explanation for making the trade.

Q: Why did you give up five pounds of candy for $5?

A: “Dunno. I wasn’t hungry.”

Q: You gave up all your candy?

A: “No. I ate some of it for Halloween. A full-size Milky Way was one.” 

Q: What did you eat and what did you trade for money?

A: “There are certain kinds of candy I like. Have you ever seen those little packs of sugar hamburgers that have Sponge Bob on them? I like those — I ate those ones.” 

That’s pretty much how it was all night, and Nagy — a longtime Elyria dentist — was all smiles throughout it even though he kept having to dig deeper into his wallet.

For weeks, Nagy and his staff had spread the word that their office was willing to shell out $1 for every pound of Halloween candy that a child turned in between the hours of 6:30 and 8 p.m. A horde of people showed up to hold them to the promise.

“By my estimates, we’ve had quite a crowd,” Nagy said, about an hour into the event. “We’re just shy of giving out $300, and we’ve had about that many people, as well.” 

A steady stream of children and their parents came through the door all night, heading to a weigh station where dental hygienist Marisol Santiago — dressed as a tooth fairy — poured the contents onto a scale and then directed the children to a nearby cash counter to collect their cash.

“We are getting bins and bins of candy,” Santiago said. “We had to empty the bins into big bags in the back.”

Boys and girls raced around the place, dollar bills clutched in their little fists — and not a cavity in sight. Well, mostly.

“I’m going to buy toys,” said Veronica Julius, 6, clutching her five $1 bills. 

“No — we’re going to help pay for your cavity,” said Veronica’s mother, Kimberly, who found out just hours earlier during a visit to the dentist that Veronica has a cavity. 

But the event wasn’t all about fighting cavities and promoting good hygiene.

In fact, the “dental” aspect of Nagy’s Great Candy Trade-in was really a footnote to what turned out to be a humongous community effort.

Nagy promised folks that the candy collected Thursday would be shipped to the U.S. soldiers stationed overseas, and before the event started at 6 p.m. people were already showing up and simply donating candy — no cash back — to send to the troops.

“You know, some of the stories I’ve heard here tonight are amazing,” Nagy said.

Among those stories was Alisha Bennett, 9, an Elyria girl who was pen-pals with Lane Tollett, the Elyria native who was killed in April while stationed in Iraq.

Alisha arrived at 7:30 p.m. with her mom and gleefully turned in four pounds of candy.

“It didn’t have anything to do with the candy,” said Kelly Bennett, Alisha’s mom. “When she heard about this being for the soldiers, she was all about it.”

Children were asked to create hand-made cards to send to the troops along with the candy, and on her card Alisha wrote: “Hi I’m Alisha and I love to send you more candy. I love it if you reply. Your friend, Alisha.”

The children also signed a gigantic card that’s being shipped overseas — the local VFW post is among the agencies helping Nagy ship the candy and cards to Iraq —while local U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Phillip Muth showed up with five local high school students who are already enlisted in the Army.

“This is phenomenal,” Muth said, looking at the bins of candy soon to be shipped.

Nagy added: “This is definitely the first annual one.”

But what about the soldiers’ teeth?

“They have a handle on their hygiene,” Nagy said. “At least more so than the kids do. For the soldiers, it’ll be more a treat than a way of life between Halloween and Christmas.”

But what if they do get a cavity?

“If they need it, we’d be happy to send them some fluoride,” Nagy said.

Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.