SALT LAKE CITY — The opportunity to perform an instant act of service through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ #LightTheWorld Giving Machines has been expanded this year.
Selecting from items ranging in price from $2 to $320, including food, medicine, hygiene supplies, sports equipment or livestock, people wishing to give to the less fortunate can find the unique red vending machines not only in Utah, but in locations from the Philippines to England during the holiday season.
Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, the church’s Young Women general president, officially opened the Giving Machines by purchasing contact lenses for a teen, laundry detergent and 100 meals in a demonstration in the lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Monday.
“The initiative that we have is to light the world. It invites people to do exactly what the Savior did ... to do good and bless people. It’s amazing what happens when we are compassionately aware of people,” Sister Cordon said. “These Giving Machines are one of the ways we can love and care for people.”
The Giving Machines are one way people can become involved in the church’s #LightTheWorld initiative this December at ComeuntoChrist.org.
The Giving Machines are in 10 cities this year through Jan. 1:
- Manila, Philippines — TriNoma Mall
- Las Vegas — Downtown Summerlin
- Laie, Oahu, Hawaii — Polynesian Cultural Center
- Gilbert, Arizona — Water Tower Plaza
- Salt Lake City — Joseph Smith Memorial Building (beginning Tuesday)
- Orem — University Place (beginning Tuesday)
- Denver — Writer Square (beginning Tuesday)
- San Jose, California — Christmas in the Park (beginning Friday)
- New York City — Manhattan New York Temple (beginning Dec. 3)
- London — Hyde Park Visitors Centre (beginning Dec. 3)
The Giving Machines are full of items supplied through partner charities that are global, such as UNICEF, Church World Service, WaterAid, Water For People and International Medical Corps, as well as local, including Eye Care 4 Kids, Utah Food Bank and Utah Refugee Connection.
The Utah Food Bank has been involved with the Giving Machines from the start. In the last two years, the Utah Food Bank has provided more than 881,000 meals to people across the state. Utah Food Bank President and CEO Ginette Bott is excited to see the expansion of Giving Machines, not only for greater giving, but also as a way to teach children about the importance of charity.
“It’s a great learning tool to bring your families, to bring the children, and recognize the multitude of areas that need assistance, to teach kids that lesson of compassion and sharing, and paying it forward, particularly now during the holidays,” Bott said. “It’s an awesome time for families to use this to really help kids understand that there are needs other than what they see at home.”
- Sister Bonnie Hillam Cordon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Young Women general president, discusses the #LightTheWorld Giving Machines during a press conference at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019. The machines are one way people can become involved in the church’s #LightTheWorld initiative this December. The machines can be found in 10 cities around the world. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
- Tamra Woolsey, center, and her children, James, left, and Kessa, right look items that can be donated in a #LightTheWorld Giving Machine in the lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019. The machines are one way people can become involved in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ #LightTheWorld initiative this December. The machines can be found in 10 cities around the world. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
- Items that can be donated are pictured in a #LightTheWorld Giving Machine in the lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019. The machines are one way people can become involved in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ #LightTheWorld initiative this December. The machines can be found in 10 cities around the world. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
“This is a wonderful way for people to come and give back,” said Joseph G. Carbone, a pediatric optician as well as the president and founder of Eye Care 4 Kids, a national nonprofit organization that gives eye exams and glasses to needy children.
“It’s the Christian thing to do — do for others what they can’t do for themselves.”
This is the third year the church has opened the Giving Machines. Last year the machines raised over $2.3 million for local and global charities, according to a news release. All donations go directly to partner charities for the purchased item and are distributed by the charities, said Blaine Maxfield, managing director of welfare and self-reliance services at the church.
The Utah Refugee Connection is sponsoring items such as cleaning supplies, a soccer ball, a backpack, school supplies and diapers for a month. When purchased, these items will stay in Utah and go to benefit the state’s 65,000 refugees, said Amy Dott Harmer, executive director of the Utah Refugee Connection.
“One of the things I love about these Giving Machines is families have the opportunity to purchase something that will make a difference in their own community,” Harmer said. “This is an awesome opportunity for people that come and purchase something that can give them some internal gratification.”
The church’s #LightTheWorld initiative invites people to take the 25 days leading up to Christmas and make it a season of service, lifting and helping others in small and simple ways. The Giving Machines are just one option, Sister Cordon said.
“This is a great arm of Light The World. But the message is the same, that we can help somebody and it’s usually one-on-one. That’s what the theme is this year, one by one,’ as the Savior did,” Sister Cordon said. “As we go out and do good, there’s a ripple effect and it also opens our hearts.
“So if you want a very Merry Christmas or you want to enjoy the holidays, get out and serve and look for those opportunities to help somebody one by one. It’ll change your experience this December.”
People can follow the 2019 donations at www.LightTheWorld.org.