NEW YORK CITY — On the eve of Giving Tuesday, in Times Square — the crossroads of the world — leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in the global launch of the 2023 Light the World Giving Machines campaign on Monday, Nov. 27.
Standing at the intersection of commerce, tourism and entertainment in the United States, Elder David L. Buckner, an Area Seventy in New York City, said the event is a symbol of hope for “greater light in the world.”
“We invite all to ‘Light the World,’” he said.
This is the first time the red Giving Machines have stood in Times Square — where more than 125,000 pedestrians walk each day.
In collaboration with many charitable organizations, the Giving Machines campaign is now in its seventh season and makes charitable giving as easy as buying a soda or a candy bar. Holiday do-gooders can use the vending machines to purchase items ranging from chickens and goats, blankets, hygiene kits or solar lamps to a hot meal for someone in need, polio vaccines, school desks or even a community well.
The red Giving Machines are located this season in 41 U.S. cities — up from 22 in 2022 — and 14 international locations.
“We invite you also to recognize the power of this globally, as we will see Giving Machines in the Philippines and in Mexico, Australia, Canada and around the globe,” said Elder Buckner.
Elder Buckner said at a time the “world desperately needs light,” the collaborative efforts of the Giving Machines bring people together.
“We hope that you will take the simplicity of a machine that we all are familiar with and embrace not only the opportunity to participate, but invite others to join in,” he said.
Top leaders from 10 national or international charities — UNICEF, American Red Cross, CARE, WaterAid, International Development Enterprises, Church World Service, African Girls Hope Foundation, Mentors International, Lifting Hands International and Catholic Charities — offered brief remarks before “unwrapping” the machines and making them available for charitable giving.
Michael J. Nyenhuis, president and CEO of UNICEF USA, said at a time of great division “in our country and in the world, this is an effort that is really pulling people together.”
Emily Haile, director of marketing and engagement for WaterAid America, said the Giving Machines make giving fun and easy. “I think sometimes people don’t know where to give or how to give or how much to give. And this is … something you can do with your whole family.”
Grace Nkundabantu, founder and CEO of African Girls Hope Foundation, said the Giving Machines are small and simple but deliver “great hope” for many.
Carly Callister brought her two young children to the Giving Machine event. “We do it every year,” she said. “It is a fun family tradition.”
The machines help her children, including 2-year-old Alice, who selected a chicken from the Giving Machines, come to understand that Christmas is a “season of giving,” said Callister.
The Church organizes the annual effort as an easy way for people to make donations to vetted local and global charities during the holidays. All transactions benefit charities not associated with the Church, which covers all operational costs, including credit card fees, ensuring that 100% of every donation goes to the giver’s desired charitable cause.
Since 2017, the Giving Machines worldwide have generated $22 million in donations. Participants have purchased:
- 250,000 chickens.
- 500,000 articles of clothing — coats, gloves, etc.
- 10 million meals.
- 2,600 goats.
- 500,000 diapers.
Dana Tseng, senior director of Philanthropy at CARE, called the Giving Machines “a wonderful tool” to help families and children engage in charitable giving and think of those “whose needs might be greater than their own.”
Starting Tuesday, Nov. 28, the New York City Giving Machines will move from Times Square to the Church of Our Savior, located at Park Avenue and 38th Street.
Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of New York, said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Catholic Charities of New York have linked arms on many previous projects. Hosting the machines is just another way to collaborate, he said.
“It’s a very, very wonderful relationship in which we work together on a variety of things,” he said.
The Giving Machines, he added, represent light in the midst of darkness.
“The machines have very simple gifts. But when there is so much poverty, so much vulnerability, so much darkness in the world, those gifts can bring needed hope and help to millions of people,” he said. “That is why it is light in the midst of darkness. That is what these Giving Machines represent.”