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Donations continue as Christmas nears

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | December 24, 2021 1:00 AM

This isn't your regular vending machine.

Instead of candy, junk food and sodas, the “Giving Machine” allows users to donate essential items to local and international charities with just a swipe of a credit card. From a dozen meals to a local homeless shelter to gifting a pair of chickens to a family half the world away to buying textbooks for an underprivileged school, the gifts are priceless to the recipients, according to the Good News Network website.

The first Giving Machine ever installed opened in 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the sponsoring organization, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is headquartered.

According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, users can purchase multiple items, if they wish, for people in need with one swipe of a credit card. Items range in price from $2 to $320 and will be supplied through partner charities such as UNICEF, Church World Service, WaterAid, Water For People and International Medical Corps.

An effort by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the special vending machines are part of a project to expand the church’s efforts to #LightTheWorld by encouraging people to perform instant acts of service that make a difference in others’ lives, according to a press release on the church’s website.

After being halted in 2020 due to COVID, the Giving Machines are back, in ten different U.S. cities — with the sponsoring church covering all administrative costs for this campaign so that 100 percent of each donation goes to each charity.

In 2019, GNN reports that a total of 255,814 items were purchased from ten Giving Machine locations around the world. The top items purchased are chickens, polio vaccines, take-home meals for children, sheep and fresh produce.

While an amazing idea and a great way to remind us all of the true meaning of the holidays, we don’t need to go to Denver or Salt Lake City or London, we can do the same thing right here at home through the Sandpoint Lions Club. Your donations ensure that all children in the Lake Pend Oreille School District have a merry Christmas — to know that they are loved and that their community is there for them in all ways.

Today's generous donations total $1,040 and come from Northern Management Services Inc, $500; Erin Fogarty in memory of Craig Carash, $100; Gary Cartisano, $200; Pierce Automotive, $140; and Sharron Silva-Taylor, $100.

To date, the annual Christmas drive has raised $71,967.46 — well ahead of the Sandpoint Lion's annual goal of $50,000 for the Toys for Tots campaign. While the Lions' target has been hit, please consider donating if you haven't already. The money you donate will help the Lions help even more children and help them take of bargains and specials thanks to generous local businesses.

As last year, the application form includes information for parents to detail a wish list for each of their children as well as their favorite color and TV show or movie. This allows the Lions to fulfill as many wishes as they can.

Donations for Toys for Tots can be dropped off at the front desk at the Bonner County Daily Bee, 310 Church St., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also drop off donations at Columbia Bank’s Sandpoint branch, 414 Church St., or at the Ponderay branch, 300 Bonner Mall Way; and at the Ponderay Starbucks.

Donations may be mailed to the Sandpoint Lions Club, Box 414, Sandpoint, ID 83864.

Donations made by check are preferred. Be sure to include a note with your check indicating that it is a Toys for Tots donation. If you wish to make an anonymous donation, please include a note.

If the donation is being made in someone’s name, be sure to also include a note.

Information: Sandpoint Lions Club, 208-263-4118