LDS Church strives to #LightTheWorld with Giving Machines that support local and global charities

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SALT LAKE CITY — With the touch of a screen, people around the world can spread the holiday spirit.

"This is a concrete way that parents and families can come teach the rising generation, this is how we care for each other," said Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities.

Although people may look like they're window shopping, it's not for what you may think.

"This one here, this candy bar is a donation to give a child an eye examination," said Joseph Carbone, founder and president of EyeCare 4 Kids.

It's The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint's #LightTheWorld campaign, and this unique vending device is a Giving Machine, one of five around the world.

"So there's one in Mega Mall in Manila, Philippines. There's one at Hyde Park Chapel in London. There's one outside the Manhattan Temple in New York City; Gilbert, Arizona at the Water Tower Plaze, and here at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building lobby," Eubank said.

People are able to purchase a variety of items from a soccer ball to livestock, to donate through local and global partner charities.

"Through those donations last year, over 282,000 meals were able to be accumulated through this donation process and serve the folks here in the state of Utah," said Jinette Bott, president and CEO of Utah Food Bank.

Carbone recalled a touching moment meeting the mother of a child who received an eye exam and glasses from the campaign.

"She had tears in her eyes, and she said, 'I couldn't do this for my child, but now you're giving my child an eye exam and glasses. He will be able to see the teacher, be able to read a book,'" he said.

Representatives say this instant act of service is better than the instant gratification of any vending machine candy bar.

"When you come here and you purchase something from these vending machines, you get an internal kind of satisfaction of knowing you helped someone else that needed your help and made a difference," said Amy Dott Harmer, executive director of Utah Refugee Connection.

The machines will be available through the Christmas season. The church is covering the back end of these donations, so 100 percent of what you donate goes to buy these items or similar items, depending on what the families need.

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