Vending for the holidays: A unique way to give this season

From mental health services to housing help, a big red vending machine can help link people willing to give with people in need.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has placed its Light of the World Giving Machines in spots all over the country, and the latest has popped up at the shopping mall at Ballston Quarter in Arlington, Virginia.

Nicholle Granger, executive director of development and marketing at Chesapeake and Carolinas, explained that organizations like hers are among those benefiting from the donations that are made at the vending machine.

“Inside each of these big red Giving Machines are cards with different needs in the community,” Granger said. “So someone can walk up to the vending machine,” choose a value and a service, swipe their credit card and make their donation.

Items include “blankets, they could be food for a week, they could be counseling services, things that people need in the community,” Granger said.

“Some of the cards that we have in the vending machine include things like youth mental health services,” she said. “Ever since COVID, youth have been struggling with mental health.”

Donations can go toward all kinds of needs for families.

“Low-income families are struggling to keep the lights on and keep their homes warm. So one of the things people can donate through the Giving Machine is support to pay for utilities for a family in need,” Granger said.

She added the Giving Machines provide a creative way to encourage donations at a time when contributions to nonprofits are down compared to the same time last year.

Among the charities included in the Giving Machine at Ballston Quarter; American Red Cross, EcoAction Arlington and the Young Doctors Project.

The Giving Machine at Ballston Quarter will be in place now through Jan 1.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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