Thanks to the efforts of two members of the Kiwanis Club of Kirkland, Ruth Ann Young and Bill Badgley, several Kiwanians met on November 22 to deliver approximately 1900 lbs of candy to representatives of the Soldier and Family Assistance Center at Joint Base Lewis McChord (the old Fort Lewis) in Tacoma. The candy arrived in time for the holidays, and is destined specifically for “Soldiers in Transition” and their families better known as “Wounded Warriors”.
The candy for the Wounded Warrior program came from two local orthodontic offices. About 1900 lbs was donated by the office of Kirkland orthodontist, Dr. Michelle Fogg Neal of nealsmiles.com. Each year in early November, Dr. Neal and her team sponsor the Annual Candy Buy Back by collecting candy donations from patients, local schools and the community to be donated to our troops overseas and the Veterans of the war program. They call this the “treat a troop to save a tooth” event and reward those who donate candy by giving $1 a pound. Dr. Neal also matches this donation to the PTSAs of participating school, personally donating over $1,200. Dr. Neal and her dedicated team are always looking for ways to give back, not only to the community and schools, but to our troops and their families.
Also contributing was the Lake Hills Orthodontic, office of Dr. Wisanu Charoenkul of lakehillsortho.com. They collected 901 lbs of candy during the same time period and donated approximately 400 lbs to the Wounded Warriors program. The remaining candy they collected was donated to Hopelink in Kirkland. Dr. Charoenkul has sponsored his program for 6 years and he also pays $1 a pound for the candy. His office feels this is a great community effort that gives parents a chance to teach their children about excess and giving to others. Also, by making a financial donation to the Boys and Girls Club, they feel this really brings our community together. Dr. Charoenkul and his staff love knowing they are giving to the families of the soldiers that are defending our country.
In previous years, both Dr. Neal and Dr. Charoenkul and their staff have helped provide candy for Operation Spirit of Christmas. This event was supported in part by the Kiwanis Club Kirkland and benefited our soldiers and their families in Iraq, Afghanistan and the last two years of the program, families here at home. Ruth Ann Young was the founder and director of Operation Spirit of Christmas for 10 years. It was her connection with these local orthodontists and the efforts of the Kiwanis Club of Kirkland that made the donations to the Wounded Warrior program possible. Ruth Ann comments that “It was very heartwarming to see how excited the staff was as they shared with us that this gift of candy would make this year’s upcoming celebration for the Wounded Warriors and their families even more special.”
Thanks again to the wonderful efforts of Dr. Michelle Fogg Neal and Dr. Wisanu Charoenkul and their dedicated teams. This is one way to be able to give back to our troops and their families during the holidays. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to these programs and may you have many blessing during this holiday season.
Kiwanis Club of Kirkland