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Utah’s Giving Machines are open and ready for the 2023 holiday season

‘I love the power of our collective community, the power we have to make a difference,’ Utah first lady Abby Cox said.

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Tyson Lacenby, 5, is held by his father Collin at the Light The World Giving Machines opening at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. Tyson is featured on the 5 for the Fight donation. Since 2017, $22 million has been donated through the giving machines globally.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

On Tuesday, the Light the World Giving Machines in Salt Lake City were unveiled for the 2023 holiday season.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and first lady Abby Cox spoke at the event.

“It all started right here,” Gov. Cox said of the Giving Machines which will be featured in 61 cities across the world in 2023. He called the machines in Utah a chance “to showcase the generosity of Utahns.”

“I love the power of our collective community, the power we have to make a difference,” Abby Cox said.

One of this year’s international nonprofits partnering with the Giving Machines is Abby Cox’s own initiative called “ShowUp.”

Nine more nonprofits are partnering with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make this year’s machines possible. They are Church World Service, Lifting Hands International, UNICEF, Make-A-Wish Utah, 5 for the Fight, National Ability Center, Green Urban Lunch Box, Joy of Hope and Junior Achievement of Utah.

“The hardest part today for all of you is choosing which charity to give to,” said Gov. Cox. “I have a special announcement. You don’t have to give to just one.”

During the unveiling, wrapping paper was ripped off the machines by representatives from the nonprofits, including 5-year-old Tyson Lacenby representing 5 for the Fight and 4-year-old Edel Wuthrich representing Make-A-Wish Utah.

Afterward, musicians Madilyn Paige and Tanner James took the stage to sing “Grateful” by Josh Groban.

“It’s up to us, to be the change,” read the lyrics. “And even though this world needs so much more, there’s so much to be thankful for.”

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Madilyn Paige and her husband Tanner James perform at the Light The World Giving Machines opening at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. $22 million has been donated through the giving machines globally.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Shoppers posed by the giant red Giving Machines and bought items such as blankets, teacher appreciation kits, dinner for 10, Ukrainian refugee meals, adaptive horse riding lessons, and chickens for people within the community and across the world.

In the week leading up to the event, Paige and James — who performed for the first time together since their wedding — were invited to visit the National Ability Center and Junior Achievement of Utah organizations, which Paige shared on Instagram.

In the video, Paige mentions meeting an incredible woman. Paige told the Deseret News that the woman had lost both legs in a car accident but was the happiest person she’d ever met and had a positive demeanor that was “impactful.”

“It showed me that we’re stronger than we think.”

Caitlin Bognaski, the National Ability Center’s director of development, said the center located in Park City has been open for 38 years and has specialized equipment to help those with all different kinds of abilities to ski, mountain bike and raft, among other activities. In 2022, the center helped around 5,400 people.

Whether a donation goes to help someone enjoy activities regardless of ability, create urban gardens to reduce food insecurity, treat cancer or grant a sick child’s wish, the Giving Machines are a way for the the community to make a difference.

“There’s a lot of people going through different things in the world,” Paige said. “That’s what’s so great about the Giving Machines — it’s people coming together to help other people and I think there’s something really, really powerful about that.

“It’s something that brings people together and creates union. There’s so many people in need and there’s so much we can do to help, no matter how small.” 

The Giving Machines in Salt Lake City can be found in the food court of the City Creek Center.

Other Giving Machines in Utah include the machine in Orem at University Place that was unveiled Monday.

Since 2017, $22 million has been donated to those in need through the Light the World Giving Machines.