Light the World: The Giving Machines


Editor’s note: This story appeared in the December 2021 edition of The Daily Universe Magazine.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched the “Light the World” initiative in 2016 and has been doing it every year since. The initiative focuses on sharing the light of Christ during the Christmas season. The main idea is to make the Christmas season a season of service, as Jesus Christ spent His life in service.

The idea of Light the World was developed by the Church Missionary Department to promote the light of Christ through service. Mike Grass, public relations director for Boncom, said after Light the World launched for the first time in 2016, it had such an amazing response that the Church has continued it every year with a different theme. Each theme revolves around the central theme of Light the World. This year’s theme is “Light the World with Love.” 

The Light the World initiative has several parts and several ways people can participate. Each year after Thanksgiving, the Church releases a new Light the World video and an advent calendar with service ideas online. People can also sign up to get text reminders with the service prompts to keep up with the challenge in December. Social media users who participate in Light the World are encouraged to use the hashtag #LightTheWorld.

The Giving Machines

By Ashley Chase

The Giving Machine is a vending machine where people can buy an item for people in need. This launched in 2017, and has been around every year except for last year because of the pandemic. The Giving Machines provide an easy way to do a simple act of service.

The Light the World website describes them as “vending machines with a Christmas twist.” The purpose of the Giving Machines is to help others in need by swiping a card. Instead of getting something for themselves, people can buy something — a pair of shoes, a meal or something else — for someone in need. “The Giving Machines provide a way for people to quickly and easily help those in need and make the Christmas season a little more meaningful for themselves — and countless others,” the website says. 

The vending machines will be back this year with 10 locations around the country; one being at the University Place Mall in Orem. 

Anyone can go to the Giving Machines and donate an item that will be distributed to a charity to help those in need. People go and choose which item they want to pay for to donate. They see a card with the name of the object fall down, but they don’t get anything. 

Grass says the Giving Machines are a great way for parents to teach their children the importance of giving and not receiving in return. “It’s been hundreds and thousands of teaching opportunities in front of these machines,” Grass said. He really hopes that people will use the Giving Machines to learn that lesson this Christmas season.

Grass encouraged BYU students to get involved in the Light the World initiative this year by doing the service prompts found on the website or through text reminders and participating in the Giving Machines. “It’s as simple as getting a few friends, coming to the University Place, going and participating in the Giving Machines, go grab some ice cream and make a night of it,” he said.

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