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Unique First-in-Canada ‘Giving Vending Machines’ Launched at Major Calgary Mall [Interview/Photos]

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Three unique vending machines – Giving Machines – have been launched at Calgary’s Southcentre Mall this holiday season – a first in Canada.

The Giving Machines are not your typical vending machine where you buy some junk food for yourself. But it’s an opportunity for people to give back directly to charities in the community through a simple vending machine transaction.

The Giving Machines are vending machines, but they contain items that will help those in need. And, 100 per cent of the funds for those items go directly to the charity of your choice. This year the Giving Machines will offer over 30 items to donate locally and globally. Items include goats and chickens, sports equipment and lessons, warm clothing and meals, hygiene and frost bite kits, and more.

“We are delighted to be hosting the Giving Machines as they make their Canadian debut,” said Alexandra Velosa, Marketing Manager at Southcentre Mall. “They offer such a wonderful and unique avenue for giving back and we look forward to making it as easy as possible for Calgarians to support both the local community and the broader global community through this tangible giving experience.”

Image: Giving Machine

The charities benefitting include; Calgary Drop-In Centre, Inn from the Cold, Ronald McDonald House, Kidsport/Sports Bank, UNICEF Canada, CARE Canada and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

“At KidSport Calgary and our Calgary Flames Sports Bank, we provide low income families with access to sport. We do that through registration fees and zero cost equipment. The giving machines are going to tie into that beautifully in terms of giving Calgarians an opportunity to gift the love of sport to someone that otherwise wouldn’t have it, and to be able to give them the confidence that comes with a new piece of equipment that they can join in with their peers and be part of the sporting community. That’s just so amazing for a child in their development and growth,” said Kevin Webster, CEO, KidSport/Calgary Flames SportBank.

“Calgarians are so quick to reach out a hand and to help those less fortunate step up and so part of this campaign, I think, is that natural expression of that generosity and that caring, because we know that when we have strong families, we have strong communities, and we all benefit from stronger communities,” said Heather Morley, Executive Director, Inn From The Cold.

Giving Machines at Southcentre Mall

Velosa said the machines are located in the Sporting Life Court area of the mall and will be in operation until December 31.

“When we were approached by the Giving Machines organizers, it was absolutely a perfect fit. Southcentre has been working with over 20 charities in the mall this year, giving them the opportunity to connect with our community,” she said. “We know that we have something important and it’s space and reach. We know that our role in the community in general is to serve as a connector and we try to embrace that by providing opportunities for people to connect with causes and issues that they care for.

“So when they approached us with the Giving Machines concept we thought it would be an amazing way to put the Southcentre community in touch with all these charities that they are supporting and be able to give back in an easy way. And this is the time of giving. Everyone is thinking about how can I give back.”

“The Giving Machines are accessible and we think it’s a fun way to give back.”

Image: Giving Machines at Southcentre Mall

The Giving Machines are part of Light the World, an annual Christmas initiative sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Richard Melchin, Calgary Co-Chair of the Giving Machines project, said the project is the first for Canada.

“We hope that if we’re successful we could persuade the powers that be that we could see other cities in Canada have them as well,” he said. 

“There was a study quite some years ago in New York. A couple of sociologists put together a machine – one for giving and one for receiving. And the question was: would people rather give than receive and they found overwhelmingly that they would rather give. From that, someone in our Church at Salt Lake came up with the idea of well let’s make a Giving Machine. We’ve seen this come together and now there’s 28 installations of these machines around the world, most of them in the United States but we’re trying to expand that around the world.”

They are located as far away as Australia and Peru. 

Melchin said Southcentre provided a very good space for the initiative which makes the Giving Machines great visibility.

“We are pleased to be the first city in Canada to host a Giving Machine where 100 per cent of the donations will go to charities of choice. I’m confident it will be a success given how generous Calgarians are. This is an incredible way to help make giving easier and add meaning to the holiday season for everyone,” said Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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