As children gave life to the ice terrace above Friday, volunteers and shoppers were giving light to local and global charities at a newly placed installation of vending machines — stocked with donation opportunities, not snacks — at Crown Center.
The hottest “selling” item so far in Kansas City: a trio of chickens for $18.
Three Giving Machines, located near the Mayor’s Christmas Tree and the entrance to Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland, allow shoppers to donate money to purchase a specific item of need for community members served by the participating charities.
Items range in value to fit any budget, organizers said. Donors may, for example, purchase a gift of an electric fan and space heater, set of bedsheets, essential clothing, a meal, dental visit, therapy session, a night of safe shelter, and other necessities. After paying by credit card, debit card, or mobile wallet (Apple Pay or Android Pay) — cash isn’t an option — the donor receives a card with a picture of the item selected and a digital receipt.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the organization behind the machines, covers credit card fees for each transaction so the entire donation is remitted to the charity of choice. Online donations may also be directly submitted to nonprofits.
Click here for the menu of local charities served by Giving Machines KC.
View this post on Instagram
A diverse group of charities was intentionally selected as recipients for the campaign’s debut Nov. 30 in Kansas City, said Terri Beard, co-chair of the local Giving Machines Initiative.
“For example, this year we have a charity to help victims of domestic abuse (Hope House), a charity that works to help underprivileged children (Operation Breakthrough), a charity that addresses homelessness, (Hope Faith Ministries.), and a charity that works with senior citizens, (The Don Bosco Centers),” said Beard. “Due diligence was done for each charity, verifying that they are well-managed with prudent use of donations seeing that all funds are used wisely. We also have two global charities that directly help developing countries. Those are the donations that you hear about purchasing a goat, or a pig among other things that are needed in other parts of the world.”
Click here for FAQs about Giving Machines.
The machines are expected to remain at Crown Center until Jan. 2, 2022.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first launched Giving Machines in 2017 in select cities as part of its Light the World campaign.
“This is a campaign to encourage everyone to bring light to others wherever they may be during the holiday season, through acts of love, kindness, and service,” said Beard. “The Giving Machines were a direct result of brainstorming ways to achieve the Light the World objective. The machines were so well received that the Church began slowly rolling them out to various cities. Right now there are 10 cities in the United States where the machines are located.”
Cindy McDavitt, acting as the church’s coordinating communication council director for the Greater Kansas City Area, facilitated the local committee created specifically to write the proposal to include Kansas City in the initiative. The committee submitted their plan two years ago, but although their proposal was approved, COVID-19 halted efforts until this year as the pandemic shifted forms.
Civic support also played a role in the machines’ arrival — heralded by billboards at stops along the KC Streetcar line, organizers said.
“Mayor [Quinton] Lucas was very supportive of this initiative,” Beard said. “We were able to show that KC is a strong and generous community. We also showed that we had several possible locations for the machines that would work well. In the end, we chose Crown Center and have appreciated their strong support for this effort. Overall, our proposal showed that KC would be an ideal location for expanding the Giving Machines throughout the country.”
Since its inception, people have donated more than $9.1 million through Giving Machines to local and global charities, according to the campaign.
“While the amount of the donations are important and certainly beneficial to each charity, the objective of the Giving Machines is to lift individuals, help those in need, and unite communities,” Beard said.