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Local charities receive donations through Giving Machines at University Place

By Genelle Pugmire - | Dec 11, 2023
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A crowd gathers around the Giving Machines in front of Dillard's at University Place in Orem on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023.
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A mom and daughter look at the various donation options available in the Giving Machines, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at University Place in Orem on Monday. Nov. 20, 2023.
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Local charities are also beneficiaries of Giving Machines, pictured at University Place in Orem on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023.

There is nothing more fun than giving presents at Christmas time, which could explain why the Light the World Giving Machines are so popular. The machines at University Place in Orem typically receive some of the largest quantities of donations when compared to other machines around the world.

What a lot of donors — or would-be donors — may not know is they can give to charities in Utah County through these same machines that also help people globally. The machines are sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

To encourage that giving spirit, local charities are sharing what they provide in Utah County.

The United Way of Utah County always needs donations for its programs. Bill Hulterstrom, president and CEO, said the agency constantly seeks to make lives better in Utah County.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Giving Machines again this year. This is such an incredible opportunity for our community to connect and give to where help is needed most. Each donation is absolutely making a difference in the lives of our neighbors,” Hulterstrom said.

Recreation and Habilitation Services is another local charity chosen this year to been a recipient of Giving Machine donations. RAH is a private, not-for-profit organization that provides services and supports to individuals with intellectual disabilities who are 18 or older.

“We feel tremendously blessed for RAH to have two giving opportunities included in the 2023 Giving Machines,” said Cheryl Adamson, executive director. “As a not-for-profit organization that does not receive state or federal funding, we are dependent on the generosity of individuals, businesses and local communities to fund our programs for adults who have intellectual disabilities.”

“Financial challenges following the pandemic have been especially difficult for our small independent organization,” Adamson added. “We are so grateful we have had the capacity to continue to provide services and supports to our participants and their families and are excited about the continued opportunities that will be available because of the kindness of those who choose to light the world by donating to our projects through the Giving Machines.”

Jackie Larson, executive director of Centro Hispano, which provides assistance and resources to new immigrants and refugees from Spanish-speaking countries, said there are new and exciting additions to their program this year and that donations are always needed and used.

“Centro Hispano is working hard to combat the injustices and challenges experienced by Spanish-speaking immigrants and refugees by offering equitable resources that empower them to thrive in the community,” Larson said. “Some of those resources include a food and hygiene pantry, health classes for the Hispanic and Latino youth, English classes, vocational training, immigration legal paperwork assistance, business accounting classes and much more.”

Centro Hispano recently became accredited through the Department of Justice and is now able to represent individuals in courts for cases of asylum, family petitions and victims of domestic as well as other kinds of violence. It is the only nonprofit in the Utah County area that can perform this service, according to Larson.

“Being part of the Giving Machines initiative with the LDS church is an incredible opportunity. To see the generosity of individuals who contribute to these machines, knowing that their donations will directly benefit our immigrant and refugee neighbors, is heartwarming,” Larson said. “It reminds us that by working together, we can make a profound and positive impact on the lives of those who may be facing challenges as they build new lives in our community. It’s a beautiful reminder of all the good there is in the world.”

Holly Johnson, outreach housing coordinator for The Refuge, said the charity serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault throughout Utah, Juab and Wasatch counties. Among its free and confidential services is an emergency shelter, temporary rental assistance, individual and group therapy, educational support groups and hospital response advocates.

The Refuge has two 24/7 hotlines to respond to victims and anyone seeking information about services that could be helpful.

“The donations we receive from the Giving Machine greatly impact the lives of those we serve for good. These generous donations let survivors know that they are not alone, their voices matter and they are being heard,” Johnson said. “From something as simple as a warm, comforting blanket to school supplies for a child affected by domestic violence, survivors feel the respect and dignity they deserve. The assistance with safe, secure housing enables victims to leave abuse behind and go on to live a peaceful life. It’s very difficult to leave an abusive relationship and The Refuge Utah provides much-needed emotional and temporal support.”

Karen McCandless, CEO of Community Action Services and Food Bank, is grateful for every donation they receive and that they have been included in the Giving Machines this holiday season.

“CASFB is grateful to be part of the Light the World Giving Machines. There is an urgent need for food to be donated to help our neighbors and a great way to donate is through the agency’s food-based items in the machines,” McCandless said. “I am very thankful for the continued support our community gives Community Action. The Giving Machines are a fun way to provide that support.”

CASFB was founded in 1967 with the mission to foster self-reliance in individuals, families and the community. The organization serves Utah, Summit and Wasatch counties with one food bank, six pantries and nearly 100 community partners. Services include a learning center, homebuyer education classes, rent and utility assistance, food assistance, community gardens, the Circles Initiative, Bridges Out of Poverty trainings and resource connection.

CASFB also participates in the Mountainland Continuum of Care, which is actively working with government, faith-based and private organizations to provide support to homeless residents, McCandless added.


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