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LDS Church “Light the World” effort to feature donation vending machines

Vending machines set up at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building allow people to scan a card and donate to causes worldwide

SALT LAKE CITY — Scan a card in Salt Lake City, send a goat to a needy family on the other side of the world.

That’s one of the options people who use one of three vending machines downtown can choose.  The machines were set up by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as part of its annual Light the World effort.  Beginning December 1, the machines will allow people to scan a card, and donate items to people through various organizations, including CARE.org, the Utah Food Bank, Water Aid, Water for People and Eye Care 4 Kids

“We’re hoping that people will be able to see how simple it is to just give a few dollars or to share some money that they have with a charity that’s in need,” said Elder Brent H. Nielson, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Church’s Missionary Department.

Elder Nielson called the vending machines a symbol of the month-long campaign to encourage service and giving by church members.

“This is something that people do every day,” he said.  “They go to a vending machine to get something.  And this is an idea that we have where you go to a vending machine to actually give something.”

That “something” includes items like socks, first-aid kits, eyeglasses, food donations and even chickens and goats.

One vending machine is free, allowing people to select a scripture and a card with ideas for service.

This is the second year the church has embarked on its “Light the world” campaign in which for 25 days, people can reference a scripture and service ideas related to that scripture.  Elder Nielson called the vending machines symbolic of the kinds of service people can give.

For groups like Eye Care 4 Kids, having their organization on the machine represents more than symbolism.  Alan Hague is on the organizations’ Board of Trustees.   “I think it’s a wonderful way for people to become aware of what we do,” said Hague.  “And at the same time to have the opportunity to help someone out.”  His group provides eye exams and glasses for children in need.  It’s also expanding to help veterans and homeless people.

The church has also produced a video outlining it’s “Light the World” campaign and showing New Yorkers’ reactions to the vending machines.

The machines are only in Salt Lake City and will be available through the holiday season.