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Latter-day Saints Reintroduces Giving Vending Machines

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) has reintroduced its Light the World Giving Machines. The full-sized vending machines, which offer consumers ways to fund a variety of local and global nonprofits, have been installed in 10 cities throughout the United States.

The campaign will run through Jan. 1, 2022.

Items offered in each machine’s 30 slots range from location to location. Typically, 10 slots are allotted to global charities such as CARE, Church World Service, USA for UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF and WaterAid, and 20 are given over to local charities, according to an LDS spokesperson.

Those choosing to donate through the machines do not have the opportunity to make straight-up cash donations to each charity. Instead, they purchase a variety of sponsored activities or goods requested by each organization. Purchasable donations are tailored to each location, and can include region-appropriate clothing, food, health care services, shelter, bedding, skills training, education supplies, contributions toward physical plant upgrades for local organizations and livestock options, according to the spokesperson.

When donors select and pay for their donations (via credit card – the machines do not accept cash), packets picturing the donated items are released and fall into a transparent “Thanks for Donating” collection bin at the bottom of the machine.

The donated funds are collected and disbursed by Latter-day Saint Charities, and the hard costs, such as the machines, marketing materials, maintenance, and all credit card transaction fees, are covered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Giving Machine program, which was originally launched in 2017, was suspended during the 2020 holiday season. The machines, which like any other vending machine are high-touch, were considered too risky to use during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, the machines are all based in the United States. In 2019, the last time the program was run, the 10 locations included one spot apiece in the Philippines and the United Kingdom and eight within the United States. That year, the machines raised $6.2 million from 255,000 transactions.

Each location hosts between two and five machines, based on anticipated volume. This year’s machines are located in:

Gilbert, Ariz. – Water Tower Plaza

Oakland, Calif. – Temple Hill

Denver – Writer Square

Honolulu – Pearlridge Center

Kansas City, Mo. – Crown Center

Las Vegas – Downtown Summerlin Mall

New York City – Rockefeller Center

Nashville, Tenn. – Bridgestone Arena

Orem, Utah – University Place

Salt Lake City – City Creek Center

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