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Donated candy gives troops overseas 'a taste of home'

Holding an empty pumpkin-shaped candy bucket, 1-year-old Dante Valentin reached for an overflowing box of Halloween candy, but he was there for the purpose of donating candy, not taking it.

Jessica Taylor and her husband Jim Valentin brought their son to Play N Trade in Bay Shore on Saturday to donate a bucket of chocolate bars and mini bags of Sour Patch Kids to the radio station 94.3 The Shark's inaugural "Treats for Troops" drive.

The rock radio station set up a booth outside the store to collect leftover Halloween candy to send to the troops overseas. Anyone who donated candy got a $5 gift card to Play N Trade in exchange.

"Jim's grandfather was a U.S. marshal in the Army," said Taylor, of Huntington. "We've always done anything we could to support our troops. And this keeps our kids from rotting their teeth. They have enough candy as it is."

Since the drive launched on Oct. 28, the radio station has collected nearly 500 pounds of candy, stored in 42 boxes that have filled the Play N Trade’s back room, according to store owner Richard Berezein.

"Anyone in the military already gets a discount when they walk into the store," said Berezein, 37, of Selden. "Why not give back to those serving us overseas, providing them with a little comfort from home."

Most of the candy donated came from a candy drive organized by Levittown’s Paul Rauch, a sophomore at MacArthur High School, and his class, said Berezein.

Simone Domonkos, account executive at 94.3 The Shark, said the U.S. Marine Corps will be shipping the 500 pounds of candy to troops serving in Afghanistan as soon as possible.

"We wanted to utilize Halloween candy that would otherwise go to waste, so we asked the public to donate treats for our heroes serving overseas," Domonkos said. "We'll be able to give these guys a small taste of home."

Tags: Bay Shore

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