Wellesley Dental Group
If anyone has ever wondered what 7,000 pounds of candy looks like, just ask Dr. Femina Ali.
Ali collected more than 7,340 pounds of leftover Halloween candy last week at her Wellesley dental office, shipping dozens of bins filled to the brim with treats to American soldiers overseas.
Ali and husband Ejaz Ali, who together run the Wellesley Dental Group, have been collecting leftover Halloween sweets for the past half-dozen years, at first bribing her youngest clients to hand it over in the name of cavity prevention, Ali said.
"We had so much candy, we couldn't even contain it indoors," she said. "We used shovels to pack the candy and put it in the U-Haul."
The pictures don't even do the amount collected justice: much of the candy was also stored in the U-Haul truck overnight, as it was picked up from local schools that hosted individual in-building candy drives in hopes of racking up the most candy donated.
"There would have been too much, so we kept some of it in the truck," Ali said.
And even after the dental group had their hauling-off ceremony, where trucks took the candy to Weymouth-based nonprofit CarePacks to ship in care packages to soldiers, the in-pouring of candy has continued.
"I have at least 300 pounds sitting in our office, and I think there could be another hundred or two still trickling in," Ali said. "It's still coming in and we're not saying no."
At the Nov. 8 shipping-off ceremony, Ali said there was a patriotic spirit in the air, as military officials joined with town and public safety departments to send the candy off.
"It's truly touching how much our community loves and supports our troops," Ali said. "To see the national guards, police, fire department, veterans, schools and the community come together was truly amazing."
Ali previously told Boston.com that she originally set up the candy collection program 8 years ago to discourage tooth decay, at first even offering kids $1 per pound of candy.
"I had to bribe them to give me the candy," Ali said, laughing. "The first year I got 60 or 70 pounds of candy, so I spent about $60 or $70 but I felt good to get the candy off of the kids' hands."
But after the initiative grew exponentially in popularity, Ali decided to begin donating the candy to US troops overseas, after finding out that local food pantries would not accept the sweets.
"The troops need to know they are remembered back home," she said. "It's not just the candy that kids bring, but also the little notes and handmade cards and letters. It's so touching to read their notes saying 'Thank you, I want to share my Halloween candy with you.' You almost cry."
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org