GILBERT, AZ — A unique vending machine is helping many this holiday season.
You can furnish apartments or provide hundreds of meals for children in need through these.
“We could give a therapy toy to a kid for ten bucks,” said one young man.
“Figured I’ll do a full holiday meal for a family,” said his brother.
“I’m gonna go with the polio vaccine,” said another family member.
The instant act of service by thousands of Arizonans is taking place in front of what is being called the ‘giving machines’ in downtown Gilbert.
This is an annual tradition for many.
“I’ve done it for probably four years now,” said a family of four.
The giving machines work just like other vending machines but with an act of service twist.
Inside it offers a variety of items that can be purchased to support families who are in need. Supporting local charities like St. Mary’s Food Bank, Child Crisis Arizona, Catholic Charities Community Services, A New Leaf, United Food Bank and AZ Brainfood.
“As you approach this experience it really kind of turns things around from what we normally expect in approaching a vending machine,” said Denny Barner, Arizona communication director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Instead of receiving, the great reward is giving to others. Everything from counseling for a foster teen, a night at a safe shelter, feeding a child for a year, to even live chickens. And it's all through a press of a button.
“I think it can give a family an opportunity to earn their own money and find a way to better their lives,” said Laurie Bramble who purchased chicken for a family.
Prices range from $5 to $150.
Since 2017, the LDS church has set up and maintained the effort every Christmas, however the Covid pandemic paused the program in 2020. But the community quickly rallied this year, already raising more than $4 million across 10 cities.
“It was fun to pool all of the donations together like when we had it all purchased and saw everything we did, it was amazing,” said one woman surrounded by her whole family.
Now even though Christmas may be over, the giving doesn’t stop. The giving machines will stay in place until Jan. 3 underneath the Gilbert water tower.