Amid the trumpeting of conch shells, Hawaiian chanting and Tahitian dancing, representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and four local charities unveiled two “giving machines” in the Center’s Hukilau Marketplace on November 19, 2019, in time for the holiday season. They will remain in place through January 1, 2020.
First time in Hawaii
“This is the first time the Church has placed Giving Machines in Hawaii,” said Wailana Kamauu, a Church public affairs spokesman. He explained the “Giving Machines initiative first appeared in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2017 as part of a ‘Light the World’ holiday season campaign to encourage people to perform instant acts of service that make a difference in other people’s lives.”
The program expanded in 2018 to locations in New York City, London, Manila and Gilbert, Arizona. They helped raise $2.3 million and benefited over 92,000 people that year. Additional new locations this year — besides those at the Polynesian Cultural Center — include Denver, Colorado; Las Vegas, Nevada; Orem, Utah; and San Jose, California.
Kamauu said the two devices “are similar to vending machines, but contributors select items that will help those in need.” He also pointed out the machines here and in all other locations include local charities as participating “partners.”
“We thank the Polynesian Cultural Center for hosting the Giving Machines this year,” Kamauu said.
In keeping with a long-standing tradition of supporting various community activities and initiatives, P. Alfred Grace, President & CEO of the Polynesian Cultural Center responded, “We’re delighted to host these unique machines and join with these wonderful charities. We are so pleased that they will benefit selected local and international causes.”
The Giving Machine partners at the Polynesian Cultural Center include:
■ Aloha Medical Mission: Provides medical, surgical and no-cost dental health services both in Hawaii and globally (for example, its free dental clinic has helped over 70 BYUH students in the past year).
■ Catholic Charities: For the past 72 years has provided social services for seniors, children, youth, young mothers and families; counseling and mental health; housing and homeless solutions; immigrant assistance and more in 38 programs at this time.
■ Family Promise of Hawaii: Provides a holistic solution to ending family homelessness, including help with shelter, hygiene products, literacy, transportation, meals, and childcare.
■ Hawaii Foodbank: Provides over a million pounds of food each month to all those in need, including recently those affected by natural disasters and work shutdowns.
Other partners include national and international nonprofit charities, including UNICEF, and WaterAid.
Where your donation goes
All money contributed goes directly to the partnering charities. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints covers all associated administrative Giving Machine costs; and volunteers provide daily stocking and assistance with the machines.
Giving an item that can make a difference in someone’s life can truly help bring the spirit of the season into focus. For example, you can donate to Oahu based charities to provide for a dental visit or denture treatments, or a meal for a home bound senior. You can give laundry pods, allowing a family who may need help in the simple need for clean clothing, or literally provide shelter for a family for a day. Imagine the difference that can happen across the islands! The machine also provides opportunities to provide for international needs by funding a reliable toilet for a school, baby resuscitation kits, or installing a well for a village.
Other selections include funding polio vaccinations, school supplies, first aid kits, shoes, personal finance education, gasoline for a week, school shoes, canned and other food items, hygiene kits, baby formula and other baby supplies, and more.
Updated information on the program and the amount of 2019 contributions can soon be found at: www.LightTheWorld.org.
Story and photos by Mike Foley, who has been intermittently associated with the Polynesian Cultural Center for over 50 years. He had a long career in marketing communications, PR, journalism and university education before becoming a full-time freelance writer and digital media specialist in 2002.
Foley learned to speak fluent Samoan as a Latter-day Saint missionary before moving to Laie in 1967, and he still does. He has traveled extensively over the years throughout Polynesia, other Pacific islands and Asia. Though mostly retired, Foley continues to contribute to the Polynesian Cultural Center and a select few other media.