News Release

Canada’s First Giving Machines Help Light the World This Christmas

“An incredible way to help make giving easier and add meaning to the holiday.” Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek

The first Light the World Giving Machines in Canada were unveiled in Calgary, Alberta, on November 29, 2022, with hundreds of people gathering to celebrate the arrival of the big red vending machines.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek welcomed those attending the launch and said, “We are pleased to be the first city in Canada to host a Giving Machine, where 100 per cent of the donations will go to charities of choice. I’m confident it will be a success, given how generous Calgarians are. This is an incredible way to help make giving easier and add meaning to the holiday season for everyone.”

Elder David C. Stewart, an Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  remarked, “An ancient prophet said ‘When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God’ (Mosiah 2:17). … [The Giving Machine] gives you an opportunity to love your neighbour. You get to help be a champion for someone who needs help.”

With the touch of a button, the Giving Machines provide a fun and meaningful way to share with others locally and globally. Instead of dispensing candy or treats, the Giving Machines offer over 30 different items for purchase for someone in need. Whether it is warm clothing and meals, goats and chickens, sports equipment and lessons, or any other item selected, 100 per cent of every dollar donated goes directly to each participating charitable organization. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints covers all Giving Machine costs, including credit card, debit card and pay-by-phone fees.

Canadian Olympic gold medallist Michelle Cameron-Coulter attended the launch to support and celebrate the unique way to give during the Christmas season. “The Giving Machine is a beautiful idea,” she said. “I hope that it spreads across the country. We need light in our world, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or hard. We can have fun doing it, and we can make a big difference.”

“It means a lot that I get to see the different charities and choose an item that really resonates with me,” said local Church member Gretchen Ojelade.

Ojelade’s husband, Joseph, added, “Whenever I think of a vending machine, I’m always thinking of getting something for myself, quick and easy, like a bag of chips. I love that the Giving Machine is quick and easy, but in this sense, I’m able to give a thoughtful gift to someone who actually needs it.”

There is a palpable energy around this new way to give. The Calgary launch saw local charity partners and community and government leaders celebrate with the public as Mayor Gondek cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of the Giving Machines at Calgary’s Southcentre Mall. Representatives from each partner charity shared a brief message, then helped unwrap the machines. During the celebration, string quartet Dolce and other local musical artists entertained the crowds awaiting their turn at the Giving Machines.

The charities that will benefit from the Calgary Giving Machines include Inn from the Cold, Ronald McDonald House, Calgary Drop-In Centre, KidSport/Calgary Flames Sports Bank, UNICEF Canada, CARE Canada, and the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

“The items in the Giving Machine will really help us [at Ronald McDonald House] with that ‘home away from home’ feeling, whether that’s board games, toys for children, comfort items or meals for our families,” said Denise Kinghorn, chief development officer for Ronald McDonald House Charities, Alberta.

Sandra Clarkson, executive director for the Calgary Drop-In Centre, said, “It takes a community to build community, and being part of this Light the World campaign is that in action.” She added that hot meals and practical items like socks and underwear “really make a difference in someone’s life when they’re struggling with the experience of homelessness.”

The Giving Machines in Calgary, one of 28 locations worldwide, will be in operation through December 31, 2022.

Contributed by Kathleen Begieneman Carter

Read the story in French

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