Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, his wife Abby and daughter Emma Kate spent just over $100 at one of the four new Giving Machines Wednesday morning.
“We got a whole bunch of stuff,” Gov. Cox said with enthusiasm.
The first family of Utah purchased chickens, dance gear, a new mother and baby kit, as well as personal care items for refugees, using the unique vending-type machines, which allow a person to make a charitable donation.
“We love these machines,” the governor said. “It’s Thanksgiving. It’s a time to recognize what we’re grateful for, and I’ve always found that the easiest way to be grateful is to think about other people.”
“We know that Utah is a place of giving, and it always has been. It’s part of our DNA and who we are,” said Abby Cox, Utah’s first lady. “We are thrilled to partner here today and to give back to these incredible organizations.”
Gov. Cox and his family were among a small crowd that gathered outside the City Creek Center food court on a chilly Wednesday morning for the opening of the red Giving Machines, which is part of the “Light the World With Love” initiative created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Local dignitaries, charity sponsors and church leaders were on hand to help remove the gift wrapping paper and bows on the machines before making the first donations.
After a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the church announced earlier this month that Salt Lake City would be one of 10 locations across the United States for Giving Machines this year. The other locations include:
- Las Vegas, Nevada — Downtown Summerlin Mall.
- Nashville, Tennessee — Bridgestone Arena.
- Honolulu, Hawaii — Pearlridge Center.
- Orem, Utah — University Place.
- Salt Lake City, Utah — City Creek Center.
- Oakland, California — Temple Hill.
- Gilbert, Arizona — Water Tower Plaza.
- Denver, Colorado — Writer Square.
- Kansas City, Missouri — Crown Center.
- New York City, New York — Rockefeller Plaza.
As in the past, a person can purchase items such as food, clean water, health care services, shelter, bedding, skills training and educational supplies, with prices ranging from $2 to $500 (depending on location). Goats, chickens, pigs and beehives are also options.
The Light the World Giving Machines in Salt Lake City have raised more than $2.5 million since 2017 for local and global partners. Globally, the Giving Machines have raised more than $9 million in donations.
Along with the charitable donations, the church hopes the Giving Machines can influence people to be more generous and giving, said Elder Kevin W. Pearson, a General Authority Seventy and president of the church’s Utah Area.
“It’s not just the monetary giving,” he said. “We hope it causes people to shift their attitude and mindset about being more giving, being more forgiving, and being more open to the needs and challenges that other people have around us. It doesn’t take a lot to do something meaningful for somebody and it’s a pattern of doing that really brings joy and happiness.”
Elder Pearson said it felt appropriate to initiate the Giving Machines the day before Thanksgiving, “when we think about those things we are most grateful for.” He invited the entire community — not just in Utah but across the county — “to open your hearts and give ... and look for ways to serve.”
“These wonderful charities who are with us this morning remind us that there are so many needs and so many opportunities to give,” he said.
The church leader looks forward to bringing his own grandchildren to use the Giving Machines where he can share a simple lesson about service.
“You have an opportunity to do something for somebody at Christmas time,” Elder Pearson will tell his grandchildren. “It’s that attitude of being outgoing and thinking of others that I hope every family would want to instill as a value in their own family.”
The Utah Refugee Connection, the Rose Park Neighborhood Center, American Indian Services, Five for the Fight and Rise Up School of Dance were among the local charities represented Wednesday. Each charity described the items people can purchase in the Giving Machines and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be involved.
One highlight of the program came when six young dancers from Rise Up School of Dance, wearing colorful dresses and hats, performed a short number from “The Nutcracker.”
“Light the World is an umbrella for a whole season of sharing and giving and loving,” Elder Pearson said. “I just hope people will find a way to engage. Find a way to serve that fits you, fits your life and your situation. You’ll find a lot more joy and happiness in this holiday season by focusing on the Savior and giving as he gave and finding somebody that you can do something meaningful for.”
More information about the Giving Machines and the Light the World initiative is available at LightTheWorld.org.