A new way to give for the holidays at Aurora’s Fox Valley Mall

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 There’s a new way to donate to this holiday season at the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora.

“The Giving Machine is something that can unite people of every race, every religion, every political persuasion,” said Dan Oscarson, a volunteer communications director with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. “(Have them) come together and unite in a common cause: to help lift and bless the lives of others.”

They look and work similarly to traditional vending machines. Each one contains cards that correspond to food, clothes, and healthcare items for people in need. After you make a decision, simply push the correct buttons and pay- it’s as simple as that. The idea is to make donating easy for people of all ages.

“The real magic of a Giving Machine is that lives are blessed on both sides of the glass,” said Oscarson. “It’s a fun, memorable way for people to give back.”

First of their kind in Illinois

 The machines are sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and church volunteers are the ones who spearheaded the effort to bring them to the area. The initiative was first started back in 2017, but the three Giving Machines that sit in the Fox Valley Mall mark the first of their kind in Illinois.

“We are having technology and heart come together, and bring the community together” said Shweta Baid, an Aurora alderwoman who represents the 10th ward where the machines are located. “What a great timing, and what a great place. Fox Valley Mall, everybody’s walking here, they’re shopping for holidays.”

Members of the church, mall officials, and Aurora city leaders all welcomed the machines to the area during an official unveiling ceremony on Friday morning, literally ringing in the occasion with three tolls of a bell.

Dispensing donations for local charities

 While several globall charities are represented in the Giving Machines, four local non-profits also stand to benefit. Those include Hesed House, Little Friends, Bernie’s Book Bank, and Loaves and Fishes.

“We think these Giving Machines are one of the most innovative initiatives we’ve seen for fundraising,” said Nancy Wiersum, Executive Vice President of Advancement for Loaves and Fishes. “There’s a range of options for people to choose, and it really reverses the whole vending machine idea.”

In total, Giving Machines have raised more than $21 million dollars for different charities in the past six years. The hope is that they’ll drum up plenty of donations here locally as well.

“I think it would be fantastic for families to come, because there are some items that are very inexpensive, and it’s a great way to encourage that next generation, our children, to give,” said Wiersum.

Limited-time only to visit the Giving Machine

 Community members need to act quickly if they want to purchase items at a Giving Machine. They’ll remain up at the mall through December 9th. After that, all donations will be distributed to participating charities.

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