A festive vending machine near Lincoln Center is "giving" New Yorkers a chance to purchase something for a stranger in need.
The one of five worldwide "Giving Machines" — operated by and sitting outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Columbus Avenue and 65th Street — appears no different from a standard vending machine. The unique twist, however, is that customers purchase small cardboard boxes emblazoned with the gifts they represent (Disclaimer: The boxes stay in the machine, so don’t expect to walk with anything other than a sense of satisfaction).
"It’s been steady, every time I come out here there are people out here talking and looking at it," said Ryan Koch, director of public and international affairs for the church’s New York office. "It’s been really great."
Gifts include, for $30, a pair of shoes can be purchased for school children who can’t afford required shoes. For $25 you can purchase a basketball for kids in Catholic Charities youth programs, and for $32 you can purchase a weekly MetroCard to cover transportation costs for someone in need.
In addition to partnering with the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York and West Side Campaign against Hunger locally, the machines offer the opportunity to help abroad. Through CARE, UNICEF and WaterAid, you can purchase everything from clean water to animals and livestock.
Gifts range in price from $3-$250.
"People really like the livestock," Koch added, laughing. "Part of it I think is it’s really fun to say, hey I bought a goat today."
One hundred percent of proceeds go toward the targeted organization, as the church covers the cost and maintenance of the machines.
The "Giving Machine," which is part of the church’s #LightTheWorld campaign, will be in service through the end of December.