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Light The World Giving Machine brings spirit of interfaith giving to Rockefeller Center and you can participate

Giving machines Light The World Catholic Charities
Participating agencies, including Catholic Charities New York, unveil this year's Giving Machines at Rockefeller Center. Photo: Catholic Charities New York

By Peter Feuerherd

Two winter scarves: $15. A pair of gloves: $5. Two basketballs: $60. A day at Yankee Stadium: $150. A Metrocard: $32. Also included are a Passover meal for two: $36 and a laptop $250.

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Some of the Giving Machine items available for donation. Photo: Catholic Charities New York

It’s an extensive Christmas and Holiday shopping list contained in the vending machines located across the street from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and skating rink, near NBC Today Show Studio 1A, next to the Free People clothing store located at 10 West 49th street.

Rockefeller Center Giving Machines Map Location
Rockefeller Center Giving Machines Location

The items are part of the #LightTheWorld Giving Machine project, providing shoppers an opportunity to send holiday cheer beyond their immediate family and friends by reaching the needy. The program has been sponsored by the Latter-day Saints since 2017. Catholic Charities of New York has been involved with the project since the first machines appeared in New York City, three years ago.

Beneficiaries are interfaith and ecumenical, including the New York Board of Rabbis, Catholic Charities of New York, UNICEF and the Actor’s Fund, among other agencies. Shoppers can select gifts, pay for them via credit card, and come away knowing that they have done something good for someone local and for someone around the world.

The project was launched Nov. 30 with a ceremony featuring speakers from charitable agencies. The program, said Elder David Buckner of the Latter Day Saints, allows those of all faiths to reach across the city and the world from the heart of New York’s Christmas shopping and entertainment center.

Monsignor Kevin Sullivan speaking at the Giving Machines dedication event.
Monsignor Kevin Sullivan speaking at the Giving Machines dedication event. Photo: Catholic Charities New York

Each item has a special purpose, noted Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. A metro card provides transportation for a newly-hired worker; paid-for-meals recognize that “food is a basic human right,” and basketballs can help youth at Catholic Charities’ agencies experience how “the human spirit needs to play and recreate.”

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of the New York Board of Rabbis emphasized the interfaith dimension of the project. Each faith provides a light of charity, with none diminishing the other, he said.

“Let’s bring a lot more illumination into a world that needs us,” said the rabbi.

Broadway actor Brian Stokes Mitchell, chairman of the board for the Actors Fund, described the needs of an industry still recovering from Covid, in which actors and behind-the-scenes crew members suffered unemployment as Broadway lights dimmed.

 “We were one of the first industries to go down because of COVID 20 months ago, and we are among the slowest to return right now," Mitchell explained. "People have lost their health insurance, and these Giving Machines are going to help out those performers, those artists,” he said.

The Mariano Rivera Foundation will use the funds to pay for poor children to attend a Yankees game with the Hall of Fame pitcher, noted Lisa Vega, executive director for the foundation.

Global charities benefiting from the campaign include CARE, Church World Service, USA for UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF and WaterAid.

The Giving Machine at Rockefeller Center will be available through New Year’s Day.