The first giving machines were unveiled in the year 2017 and have since raised almost $9 million for partnering charities.
As part of the annual #LightTheWorld holiday initiative, organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the city of Denver has converted its vending machines into "giving" machines in collaboration with local charities. Located in Writer Square on the 16th Street Mall between Lawrence and Larimer, these giving machines make it easy for shoppers to donate to a charity of their choice. As the Giving Machine organization explains on their website, "[These] are vending machines where donating to charity is as easy as buying a candy bar." Shoppers can choose a donation of items ranging from $5 to $300.
The charities that are part of this initiative include The Crowley Foundation, the Denver Rescue Mission, the Jewish Family Service and Project Worthmore. This year, there are also two international charities on board: CARE and the United Nations Refugee Agency. Shoppers can purchase 30 different items ranging from livestock to English classes to socks and underwear to dental care. Each charity has specified items they need the most. They can purchase multiple items in a single transaction up to $1500. The giving machines, like any other vending machine, accept credit cards and mobile payments. Unfortunately, shoppers cannot use cash to make donations.
The giving machines will be open 24/7 from November 22, 2021, all the way through New Year’s Day, 2022. Volunteers will be there from 9 am to 9 pm to help shoppers with their transactions if needed. All shoppers need to do is insert a payment method, select an item and a card representing their gift drops into a bin so they can watch the donations pile up. The giving machines keep a running total of all purchases made. Notably, all donations are eligible for tax deductions. Shoppers will receive receipts via text or email.
In a statement, officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shared, "The Giving Machines provides an opportunity for many cultures, traditions and means for giving to come together with one goal: to help others. After missing a year of in-person giving due to the pandemic, Denver is encouraged to ‘Come Back, Give Back, Light the World.'" The Church covers all costs associated with the giving machines, ensuring that 100 percent of the donations go to the charities they collaborate with. In 2019, Denver tripled expected donations, giving $666,417 to purchase 25,458 items to benefit people in need, CBS Local reports.
Given the success of the giving machines in Denver, similar machines have been unveiled across the United States as part of the #LightTheWorld holiday initiative. Giving machines are now open in Utah, Nevada, Tennessee, Hawaii and Colorado. Other locations are expected to open in the near future. The machines were first unveiled in the year 2017 and have since raised almost $9 million for partnering charities. LaDean Gillman, the regional administrative assistant for the institute, is encouraging the students to take a date when they go to volunteer at the giving machines. She stated, "It’s a perfect date because they can come here to the mall and they will be serving others together."