ST. JOHN — Deployed service members often miss some of the simple pleasures while serving their country. Halloween is always a time for children to gather an abundance of sweet treats and it’s one of those simple pleasures.

Some of those deployed military personnel serving around the world are going to get a sweet surprise when they receive a box of Halloween candy donated by St. John area children.

Children from preschool to grade 6 and even some from high school are participating in Soldiers Angels “Treats for Troops” and have donated excess candy to the program. About 50 students have collected leftover Halloween candy and taken it to the grade school to be sent to deployed troops. High school students in FCCLA have also donated candy to the cause, said Lisa Cornwell, St. John school nurse.

Besides those deployed, some of the candy will also distributed to veterans in VA hospitals.

Students who donate candy receive a gift of a Rubik’s cube, play dough or bouncy ball donated by local dentist Joe Rosenberg, who is also donating the cost of shipping.

The response from the children has been much bigger than anticipated

“Families are sending their extra Halloween candy back to school. It surprised me how much we’ve received,” Cornwall said. “We’ve had an overwhelming response. I’m shocked and surprised.”

Cornwell said she got the idea from a nutrition consultant who works at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City. Some St. John students work with the medical center weight reduction plan and heard about the program. They told Cornwall who decided it was a good idea and organized the St. John students who have responded way beyond expectations, Cornwall said.

“Kids and families are responding to it,” Cornwall said.

Students have already filled three big boxes to mail to the troops and expect to fill more after getting double their donations in just one day.

There was an unexpected connection with Treats for Troops. A parent of a USD student was the recipient of candy in the program when they were deployed, Cornwall said.

To learn more about the program, visit soldiersangels.org/treatsfortroops.html.