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Sacramento Oracle

Forget the Coke or Candy; These Vending Machines Dispense Gifts for the Needy

Nov 22, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Gary Zavoral

This holiday season, Sacramento-area residents can go to vending machines and purchase clothing for a local refugee family, meals for a needy family, a blanket for a homeless person, essentials for a battered woman, and even chickens for a family in Africa.

Forget the Coke or Candy; These Vending Machines Dispense Gifts for the Needy [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

Sacramento-area Giving Machines Are the Only Ones in California

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) – This holiday season, Sacramento-area residents can go to vending machines and purchase clothing for a local refugee family, meals for a needy family, a blanket for a homeless person, essentials for a battered woman, and even chickens for a family in Africa.

It is part of a global effort to promote the true spirit of the holidays by giving gifts to those in need. The Light the World Giving Machines, organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be located on the first floor of the Westfield Roseville Galleria and stocked with items that are needed by four regional and three international charities.

The Sacramento-area Giving Machines will be available Nov. 22, 2022, to Jan. 2, 2023. The items available to donate range from $7 socks to a $250 children’s bedding kit that includes a mattress, blanket, sheets and pillows.

“The Giving Machines will help Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Sacramento in our mission to assist women, children and families in our region who are struggling during these very tough economic times,” said Miriam Sammartino, director of Catholic Charities and Social Concerns for the Diocese of Sacramento. “This wonderful program will enrich and transform the lives of those who both give and receive.”

The other local charities with items available for donation are Al-Misbaah, Homeless Assistance Resource Team (or HART) and Placer Food Bank.

The initiative has proven to be popular throughout the United States since 2017, and this year has been expanded to reach 28 cities worldwide. The three Giving Machines inside the Roseville mall will be the only ones this holiday season in California. Those unable to visit a machine in person can still participate by making an online donation at www.LightTheWorld.org/give.

“We are excited that the Church has chosen the Sacramento region for this year’s Light the World Giving Machines,” said Bruce Anderson, the director of the local effort. “Our region has proven to be very charitable, and we expect there to be an outpouring of support from the public. These giving-focused vending machines offer a unique and memorable way to light the world with love by serving and caring for others both locally and globally.”

Since the first Giving Machine appeared in 2017, total contributions have reached $15 million. As part of its ongoing global humanitarian efforts, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints covers all operational costs, ensuring that 100% of every donation goes to the charitable cause of your choice. A team of volunteers will be staffed at the Roseville location to assist individuals and families with their donations and to answer questions.  Due to the influx in the past couple of years of refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine, several of the items from the charities will benefit these families.

“The gifts that the public can purchase from these charitable vending machines will help refugees from Afghanistan and the Ukraine get settled here in their new hometown,” said Helena Madera-Silmi, resource director at Al-Misbaah, a local Islamic nonprofit organization that assists refugees and others in need of all faiths. “They include clothing, kitchen utensils and even bicycles for the breadwinner of the family to get to and from work. This is a fun and exciting way to really light the world with true charitable love.”

Other Giving Machine charities also are assisting refugee families, as well as those experiencing hunger and homelessness.

“The holiday season is all about bringing joy to others. The Light the World Giving Machines will not only bring joy to families and individuals in our area but also healthy food,” said Dave Martinez, executive director of Placer Food Bank, which provides hunger relief to El Dorado, Nevada and Placer counties. “By using these charitable vending machines, you can really bring the ‘merry’ into this season, and beyond, through your gift of purchasing food and meals for people of all ages, genders, race and ethnicities – many of whom experience chronic food insecurity or for those who need food assistance during this economic challenging time.”

HART has 10 groups throughout the Sacramento region that provide services to those experiencing homelessness and assist them in their efforts to become self-sufficient.

"During this season, Christians celebrate the day when a baby was born to parents who had no room in an inn. This winter, and every winter, there are many of our friends and neighbors who find themselves with no place to live, and that is why our Homeless Assistance Resource Teams exist,” said Travis Kimball, who represents the Rancho Cordova HART. “We provide food, shelter and supplies to the unhoused in the greater Sacramento area, and we are so happy to be part of the inaugural Light the World Giving Machines here. We hope area residents will find the true spirit of this season by purchasing something for the needy and find joy in doing so."

For more on the area’s Giving Machines, including answers to frequently asked questions, go to https://www.givingmachinesgreatersacramento.org/.

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