Even the threat of snow and the freezing wind could not sway the enthusiasm of the large group of metro-west residents, including school children, gathered to honor the US troops today at the Wellesley Dental Group. As part of the Veteran’s Day celebrations, and the grand finale of the 7th Annual Community Candy Drive, this event brought together schools and organizations from across the region, to express gratitude for the soldiers serving abroad.

The 7th Annual Candy Drive, which ran from the 3rd to the 13th of November, originally started as an initiative by Drs. Ali and Ali to incentivize children to eat less Halloween candy.

‘The idea is not to decrease the actual fun of Halloween, which comes from dressing up and going trick-or-treating. This was a conscious decision of our community to share the treats that have been collected, with servicemen who don’t have access to these simple comforts, because they are protecting and serving us abroad,’ explained Dr. Ejaz Ali.

‘The candy drive encourages a spirit of giving and gratitude for the service of troops to our nation,’ Dr. Femina Ali added.

All the candy that is collected is sent to US soldiers serving abroad, via Care Packs, along with heart-warming letters and cards, and hygiene packages. Today, the final weight of the candy donated amounted to 7650 pounds, with participation from schools in Needham, Natick, Framingham, Weston, Dedham, Westwood, Newton, Wellesley, Jamaica Plains and Waltham. Students, parents and teachers from these schools were present at this event. This year, the Candy Drive managed to cross state boundaries with the involvement of an organization from Connecticut, as well.

The event started with a striking rendition of the national anthem by a seven-year old Elementary School Student, Evan Lariviere. The Wellesley High School Keynote Singers Club was present, and performed America The Beautiful. Speakers at the event included Wellesley Selectman Ellen Gibbs, who commended the Wellesley Dental Group and all participating towns in coming together for the cause. Dr. David Lussier, School Superintendent Wellesley,  also spoke, highlighting how almost every person present would be able to trace their lineage back to a Veteran. The President of Care Packs, a non-profit organization that creates and sends individual packages to soldiers, Mr. Rick Bruce, thanked the community for contributing each year, and relayed how candy from past years has made thousands of soldiers happy.

The highlight of the event was the presence of the US Marines, Army and the National Guards, the American Legion, the Wellesley Fire Department and the Wellesley Police department. Community members and children enjoyed personally interacting with Veterans and soldiers on active duty, and  getting their photographs taken in front of the huge candy display. The event ended with a prize giving ceremony sponsored by the Wellesley Dental Group, rewarding the students present at the event for their contribution to the cause, and awarding certificates to participating schools and organizations.

See more photos on the Wellesley Dental Group blog.