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Race, Religion & Social Justice

Temple Square Vending Machines Leave Visitors Empty Handed, And That's The Point

Lee Hale

At Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has set up some temporary vending machines for visitors. But, unlike a typical vending machine, everything purchased here is donated to someone in need.

They're located in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Big red machines, hard to miss. Jennifer McDonald stands at one, wallet in hand, looking through the glass.


"I'm l trying to decide," says McDonald, who is visiting from Albuquerque. She saw the vending machines on social media she knew she had to make a special trip.


At this machine, there are baby pacifiers, socks, a first aid kit for $10 and small cardboard signs that say "chickens" and "goat."


Credit Lee Hale / KUER

"I'm kind of liking the goat," McDonald says. "But I still have kids at home, so I don't know about $75 for a goat. I'm kind of liking the two chickens for $25."


The goats and chickens will be delivered to families around the world through a partnership with CARE, a nonprofit emergency relief organization.


McDonald swipes her credit card and selects the chickens. A small cardboard sign falls to the bottom to be picked up later by a volunteer.


"The chickens have been a very popular item as well as the goats," says Steven King, who works for the LDS Church's missionary department and helps oversee these machines.


"As of this morning we've sold over 1,100 goats, so you can just imagine what a wonderful thing that is, "says King. "There's been a little over 1,700 chickens, but there are two of them, so it's really a little over 3,500.

King says 13,000 people have made purchases so far.

These vending machines are part of the LDS Church’s "Light the World" campaign which encourages daily acts of service leading up to Christmas. King says this year has been a kind of trial run that’s gone better than expected.

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