REXBURG – Thanks to a community post-Halloween candy drive, Afghanistan service members with Upper Valley ties will receive 500 pounds of sweets and over 1,000 letters written by Madison School District students of all ages.

The boxes were mailed out earlier this week, and the hope is that the treats will reach Afghanistan in time for Christmas

“It’s fun for the whole community,” said Madison Cares Communications Coordinator Jessica Goudy.

Goudy reported that a local teacher’s son is serving in Afghanistan, and that a group from the Air National Guard has been deployed there multiple times.

“We just want to spread the love to as many of our deployed veterans as possible,” she said.

Earlier this year, individual Madison County Schools brought in treats donated by their respective students to Madison Cares. Residents also provided their leftover Halloween candy to the organization, Goudy said.

“It came from kids that brought the candy into the offices of their schools,” Goudy said. Community members, who didn’t have as many trick-or-treaters as they thought, brought in their extra candy.”

This is the fourth year that Madison Cares has sent candy to military members serving overseas. In 2018, the organization sent two large boxes of holiday treats to Upper Valley veterans serving in Kuwait.

Goudy assured residents the donations go where they’re intended and don’t wind up sitting in some dusty warehouse for months on end. The veterans receiving them are grateful for the efforts of Madison Cares workers, and those donating the items, Goudy said.

“They really appreciate it,” she said. Every day it’s hard for them and especially so around the holidays.”

The first year Madison Cares sent large boxes of candy, service members received the treats on Christmas Day.

“The timing was perfect,” Goudy said. They cried as they ate the candy. They said they were missing home. We actually got video and photos back from them. We’ve gotten pictures of the units opening the candy and reading through the cards.”

Seeing the pictures and realizing how grateful the soldiers are, helps Madison School Districts students know their efforts are appreciated, Goudy said.

“Our students love to see this come full circle,” she said.

In addition to the soldiers, Madison Cares also took over boxes of candy and letters of thanks to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office as well as to the Rexburg Police Department. Goudy said the letters came from a Standard Journal booth set up during Celebrate Youth last summer where residents wrote cards of thanks to law enforcement officers and those in the military.

“During the holidays, all of us are winding down and getting ready to take off, but they do business as usual,” she said. Hopefully, officers can candy binge throughout the holidays.”

Madison Cares plans to provide the holiday treats for veterans and officers again next year and will accept candy throughout 2020 for its holiday efforts.

“Candy stores well,” Goudy said. “We have amazing self-control here because we know where the candy is going.”

For more information on donating to the Madison Cares’ annual candy drive call 208-359-1256 or stop by the facility located inside Madison School District offices located at 60 W Main Street, Rexburg.