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The end of the year is a common time for people to make charitable donations. One organization is making it even easier for those annual acts of generosity, installing vending machines that enable donors to send items, from farm animals to school supplies, to underserved communities around the world with just the touch of a button.
The "Giving Machines" are part of a partnership between local and global charities and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The machines, which were installed earlier this month on the streets of New York City, Salt Lake City, Manila, London and Gilbert, Arizona, have already raised around $1.3 million, said Zach Roderick, a missionary at the Mormon Church in New York City.
“The machines are great because it’s just like an instant act of giving,” said Roderick.
Eric Newton of Philadelphia donated two chickens with his wife, Tiffani, at a machine in New York City.
“It’s a fun way to give,” he told NBC News. “It makes you realize, when you’re looking at the things to purchase, that there’s a lot of people out there who don’t have some of the basic essentials that we probably take for granted every day.”
While the most popular donation is farm animals, another basic essential available is a “School in a Box Kit.” Supplied by UNICEF, the kit aims to help the 30 million children around the world who have been displaced from their homes as a result of conflict, crisis, or poverty.
One kit provides support for "at least 40 children to be able to learn no matter where they are,” Rachel Steinberg, UNICEF's Senior Director for Global Cause Partnerships, told NBC News. “If they’ve been displaced from their home, a teacher can take a kit and basically turn it into a mobile classroom without the need for a permanent structure.”
Art Start, a New York City-based charity dedicated to supporting young local artists, supplies items to vending machines in the Big Apple. Some of these items include MetroCards, family winter accessories, strollers and painting supplies.
“We’re really thankful for the Giving Machines,” Art Start Programs Manager Mariama Noguera-Devers told NBC News. “We are able to reach and touch so many more people, and let [them] find out more about Art Start and the work we are doing.”
According to Noguera-Devers, the Giving Machines had raised $4,000 for the charity in the first three weeks of December.
The machines will remain open for donations until Dec. 31.