Mayor Hancock, Shawn DeBerry Johnson, Elder Thomas T. Priday, and project lead Craig McIlroy present charity recipients from 2019 Giving Machines with checks.

The excitement of the holiday Giving Machines continued Thursday as five local charities gathered in Denver Mayor Hancock’s office. Those in attendance were all smiles – with good reason. In Denver’s inaugural year the Giving Machines surpassed all expectations. Denver area helped raise more than $750K for charitable organizations – and Thursday was the payday. If there was one theme word of the day, it was huge. The checks were huge, the payments were huge, and, best of all – the impact for those in need is huge.

Two volunteers from Catholic Charities pose with NBA Super Mascot Rocky

Catholic Charities’ Director of Communications and Marketing, Cheryl Talley, reported how excited they were to be part of the Giving Machines. Citing the 3,000 meals that were donated to the women they serve, “this is more than a meal. This provides more than nourishment. It provides hope, and a pathway. This is a huge, huge improvement for the lives of women here in Denver.” Other gift options available through the machines means hundred of families Catholic Charities serve will receive 10 days’ worth of groceries, a years worth of diapers, and thousands more blankets will be provided. They can even provide many with a mattresses and bedding. Their total donation received was $89,126.

A sample social media teaser for BCDI shows how easy it is to give a huge gift.

Black Child Development Institute- Denver, received more than 2,000 donations, making their total gift $68,398. That translates into thousands of books for children, hundreds of STEAM kits, fresh produce for thousands of children, and many, many children who can now attend early literacy boot camps. Cassandra Johnson, Denver Affiliate President, shared appreciation for their most popular gift- a 20-book at home “starter library,” which means “children will have increased literacy skills” and put on the path to better educational opportunities.

Linda Loflin-Pettit, Chair of the Board of Directors for The Rose Andom Center illustrated the huge impact their gift makes. Both research and anecdotal experience show that women facing domestic violence have large transportation obstacles to overcome, both in fleeing abuse and in traveling to centers of support. Thanks to the 2,500 bus passes given at the machines, Loflin-Pettit is convinced that lives will be saved. The Rose Andom Center, Denver’s first one-stop center for survivors of domestic violence received $56,479. Other gifts given included hundreds of personal care items and toys for children’s waiting rooms, well-woman exams, and counseling and legal advocacy for abuse victims.

A child smiles in front of the Giving Machines. Donations options for Mile High Ministries and the Rose Andom Center show behind him.

Mile High Ministries received $60,448. Their services can now provide thousands more meals, hundreds of hours of tutoring and adult education classes, and months of nights of safe shelter for families who need support. What did they have to say about this support? “We are enormously grateful,” reports Jeff Johnsen, Executive Director.

Though six charities were recipients of the Giving Machines, there may have been one or two whose items for sale were most talked about. After all, how often do you get to buy a piglet from a vending machine? Church World Services, one of the two global charities, was definitely a draw with its unique options like chicken and sheep. Over 3,500 visitors chose to buy chickens. Yet, all benefitted from the machines’ universal appeal. In their 6 weeks at Writer Square, the Denver Giving Machines saw more than 9,000 transactions from its visitors, donating more than 25,000 items.

The Jaussi family stops to Light the World through a gift at the Giving Machines.

Denver-based Water for People, the other global charity, had unique attractions of their own. Their top seller, the tiger-worm toilet, was donated 1,169 times. Chad Arthur, Chief Development Officer of Water for People, explained that tiger worms help prevent the spread of disease through the latrine system. “This will make a huge impact.” Other gift options means 500 wells and 900+ hand pumps will be given from this year’s donations, not to mention the very thing we take for granted – hand soap. Water for People received more than $200,146 from Denver’s giving.

Operating costs and credit card fees for the Giving Machines were covered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church also covers a portion of administrative fees. Thursdays’ checks included the total donation from Denver Metro residents, and funds from The Church of Jesus Christ.

A donor buys a tiger-worm toilet for Water for People through the Giving Machines.

Though forecast to have modest success, Denver Area made its own way with the theme of “huge” and raised $753,069. Such success is sure to grow. Denver is set to host the Giving Machines in 2020, and we’ll see just how much bigger the impact can get. Look for their return to Writer Square from November 23, 2020 – January 4, 2021.

The Light the World campaign is an annual Christmas campaign designed to share love and service to everyone around.

After more than a year of planning and anticipation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints finally brought its formal relationship with the Boy Scouts of America to a close on December 31st, 2019.

With more than half of the youth in the church outside of the US the decision to move away from scouting toward a Church designed program that can be implemented universally worldwide meant a 20% decrease in the number of young men in the Boy Scouts nationwide.

On Dec 31st, The Denver Post published a wonderful article which can be found in its entirety by clicking here.

Image Credit: Daniel Brenner, Special to the Denver Post

While the two organizations will no longer be formally intertwined, Colorado’s church members made clear that the relationship will remain strong. On Dec. 19, [Elder Thomas] Priday penned a letter to the Scout executive of the Denver-area council, John Cabeza, expressing his appreciation of a century of close ties.

Priday has been involved in the Scouts for more than half that time. His three brothers were Scouts. His son was a Scout. Some of his best friends and mentors to this day he met in the Scouts. On that December day, he watched with pride as his grandson, Ashton, walked across that bridge.

What’s on the other side, however, remains to be seen.

“It’s been hard, it truly has,” Priday said. “It’s the bittersweet end of a really positive relationship. I can’t say enough about what Scouting has meant to me.” – December 31st 2019 – Sam Tabachnik – “They’ve been intertwined for more than 100 years. Now the Boy Scouts and Latter-day Saints prepare for life apart.”

You can click here to read the letter mentioned above sent from Elder Priday to John Cabeza.

The future is uncertain but what is clear is that it is the hope of all of us that The Boy Scouts of America can continue to prosper in spreading the ideas and values articulated in the Scout Law and Scout Oath throughout Colorado!

It was a fun and busy season for the Denver Giving Machines in 2019. The first year in Denver meant extra attention from the local media and press. What follows is a summary of some of the local media coverage given to the machines!

KDVR Fox 31Colorado’s Best

KCNC CBS 4 News Story

KMGH ABC 7 News Story

KUSA NBC 9 News Story


Last Saturday, December 14th , the Colorado Saints Chorale put on a special holiday concert in Brighton, Colorado, titled, Joy to the World. The concert featured soloists Lauren Flauding and Victoria Olson.

There was also beautiful music provided on the strings by Chuck Skinner and Ellen Taylor (violin), Sara McFadden (cello), and Sierra Hicken on the harp.

The concert marks one of the first times the Chorale has partnered with the Brighton Colorado Stake. This was a wonderful opportunity for the group to bring their talents up North and share their message of the Savior across more of Colorado.

This magnified the mixed-voice choir’s mission as an ambassador for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And their impact was certainly felt on Saturday night. The music emanating from the choir and soloists was beautiful, and certainly warmed hearts.

But the concert also contributed to warming individuals another way–with a successful coat drive. Through a partnership with the Salvation Army, 176 coats will be distributed to those in need this Christmas.

The Brighton Stake was honored to work with Major Pease of the Salvation Army. Leslie Aldridge, Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the Stake, coordinated these efforts.

All who attended felt that the whole night was a great way to celebrate the Christmas Season and the Joy the Christ Child brought to the World.

Union Station shines bright for the Grand Illumination

In the time of year where family traditions and activities are central- you might be on the hunt for quality family fun. Denver offers many answers. Since the costs of fun and holidays can add up quickly, we offer five solutions that are friendly on your wallet. 

These tips are for everyone looking to enjoy family time together in Denver, and do it at low cost. It is possible to do both!

1. Start at the Giving Machines in Writer Square. On this day of fun and -mostly free activities- start off by thinking of those in need. After all, when was the last time your $3 at a vending machine bought meals for those at a shelter? Or you gave chickens for Christmas? With 5 local and 1 global charity benefitting from the machines, don’t miss Denver’s first year as host to the Light the World Giving Machines! Visit for more information.

A family makes their selection at the Giving Machines

2. Visit Santa Claus at Larimer Square. After you’ve been the giver of gifts, visit one of the most famous gift givers – Santa Claus! Here’s a chance to visit St. Nick, and enjoy the surroundings in Larimer Square while you’re at it! Photos are free – please just bring your own camera. Santa visits every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Click for more info. 

Children share their Christmas wishes with Santa on the Square

3. Travel “abroad” with a visit to the Christkindl Market. For a taste of the variety of ways holidays are celebrated, enjoy the Christkindl Market. Entry is free, and just a stroll through the many shops provides an eyeful of wonder and delight. Handmade gifts represent makers from many countries. Take your visit to the next level with an authentic German pretzel. Yum! Check further details at their website.

A scene from last year’s Christkindl Market. Photo courtesy: Denver Christkindl.

4. Go Ice skating at Skyline Park. Perhaps you’re ready to add some speed to your holiday tour. If you own your own ice skates, this activity is totally free. For those needing to rent – skate rentals are $7 for kids and $9 for adults. Hot tip for 4th graders : Free skating and rentals are provided to ALL Colorado 4th graders ALL Season long! See their website for more hours and information. 

Downtown Denver Ice Rink (Photo by Jack Dempsey)

5. Make a visit to the Mile High Tree. Wrap up your day with the sounds of the symphony, and the wonder of the Mile High tree. All events here are free! See a Christmas tree unparalleled by anything you’ve seen before. This 110 foot tall, immersive art installation can host up to 140 guests at a time, for a viewing experience from within the tree itself! Enjoy two different shows, rotating every 15 minutes. Open from 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Click for more info.

The view from inside the Mile High Tree

The Denver North Stake held its eighth annual Helping Hands Food Drive in November. Six food banks were benefited by the generous donations of stake members and the Bishop’s Storehouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The successful drive was a coordinated effort between the public affairs committee, stake leaders, members, and missionaries. Church members and friends collected food in their neighborhoods and delivered it to the stake center where it was sorted and boxed. A large truck then distributed the donations to local food banks, including: The Stewardship Center Food Bank Immaculate Heart of Mary, Northglenn Christian Church’s Food Bank, Thornton Community Food Bank, Amazing Grace Church and Food Bank, Senior Hub of Adams County, and Food for Hope.

At times, some organizations have bare shelves when the Helping Hands arrive. “It is very inspiring to fill shelves and prepare the organizations for the holidays.” said Sister Keith, Public Affairs Director, Denver North Stake.

City council and state representatives, including Representative Kyle Mullica, attended the event and were impressed by the good work of the Denver North Stake and members in their community. The Helping Hands Food Drive has been a tremendous blessing to their neighbors in need. In the last two years alone, members have donated more than 2.5 tons of food.

We’re two days away from the Grand Opening of the Giving Machines! We know it’s a big honor – and super exciting – to have the Giving Machines in Denver.  After all, only 10 cities in the WORLD get the chance. 

Duane Smith and Jermaine Carroll help get the machines to their temporary landing spot while they await the official install and unveiling.

But what can we do to help maximize the Giving Machines’ impact?

Here’s a list of 6 easy ways to help Light the World through the Giving Machines.

1  – Take the personal challenge to go onto your favorite social media outlet and follow the Giving Machines page (@GivingMachinesDenver for FaceBook and Instagram. @denvergiving for Twitter). Send an invite to all your local friends to do the same. Those who have hosted Giving Machines before assure us that social media is the Number ONE way to spread the word. 

Instagram posts make an impact!

Once the machines open – VISIT, TAKE a picture, and SHARE! Tag us @givingmachinesdenver on any social media channel. 

2 – Share this 60-second video that fully embraces the Giving Machines impact. It’s the newest, BEST video for showing friends and neighbors what the machines are all about. Watch it – send it! Let your friends and neighbors know through this super simple minute that an unforgettable giving opportunity is here in DENVER!

3 – Perhaps we should change the name of pass-along cards to come-along cards. These cards print so easily from your home computer and capture everything at a glance. Pass them along – attach them to neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, etc. You could include them in your Christmas cards!

Better yet invite your friends to visit the Giving Machines with you

4 – Download and print the FHE lesson written specifically for the Giving Machines. You’ll find activities tailored to helping your family get to know what they can give to others, and recognize the many temporal ways they’ve been blessed at home. Put it on your calendar – and do the lesson with your family.

5 – Visit and use the website! 

We’ve put a ton up there. The website includes a downloadable, printable PDF menu, specifics about parking locations & cost, details about the charities, upcoming events (like when the Broncos cheerleaders will be there), social media graphics for sharing, and more!!

6 – Read and be familiar with the FAQ’s. As the Giving Machines come up in conversation – and they often will! – you’ll be prepared to spread the word while answering questions at the same time. 

These are just a few ideas. What ideas do you have?