NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — If you’re looking for charitable ways to give in coming weeks, you may just stumble across an innovative way to do that. Cities across the country have a method that’s somehow very familiar, yet some say they’ve never seen anything like it.
During the season of giving, Chris Whitney's feet were on a sidewalk, ready to talk about his work to anyone who would listen.
“We want to help people walk through a season of life with dignity and honor and know they're cared for and loved on,” Whitney said.
It was 30 years ago when Whitney's daughter was born with spina bifida.
“We spent six months in a food line because medical expenses were so high and things like that,” he said.
Having lived that, Whitney is now the founder of One Generation Away, a Middle Tennessee-based food ministry, feeding people who are food-insecure.
“I just don’t think we can allow that to happen,” he said.
Whitney is up for any innovation that helps. He spoke to people feet away from several red vending machines in downtown Nashville.
When you think of vending machines, it’s usually soft drinks and snacks. Besides Nashville, these red vending machines are in 10 cities across the country including Denver, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City. So, what do they do?
“How often can you buy peanut butter for a family in a vending machine or week's worth of food?” asked Laura Harris of the Light the World Giving Machine.
People step up, swipe a card, and buy things others need through both local and global charities. It’s an effort through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that runs through January 1.
“100% of the proceeds from these machines go directly into the pocket of those charities,” said Harris.
It’s charities like Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
“We build bunk beds for kids who are sleeping on the floor, children whose parents are not able to provide them a bed,” said chapter president Dwan Smith.
“We were walking the dog and had to stop over,” said one person passing by the machines. “We’ve never seen anything like it."
“I chose the bedding because if you don’t have bedding, you’ll be freezing at night,” said a child, standing outside the machines with his family.
“You feel really good after it!” said a woman who’d just used one of the machines.
All those years ago, during more difficult days, Whitney could have never known he’d have a food ministry, much less a ministry people could help through a vending machine. He loves how easy this is to help people in the season of giving.
“I think it’s an amazing idea,” said Whitney. “What a way to change our world. Find something you’re passionate about. Give to it. Pour into it. Help people trying to help others. There’s no greater feeling on Earth than that.”
For more on the Light the World Giving Machines, visit their website.