The Light the World Giving machines sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taking-up donations for new Afghan refugees in Nashville.
"A lot of folks from Afghanistan who evacuated came with nothing but clothes, the clothes on their back so having winter coats is important right now," the organization’s Associate Director of Development Max Rykov said.
Shoppers can donate winter attire, car seats, school supplies, and citizenship study books for prospective immigrants with only a credit or debit card swipe. The Nashville International Center for Empowerment is one of the organizations helping provide for the refugees and is participating in the giving machine program.
“Donations made through the Giving Machine to NICE help welcome refugees to their new community here in Nashville with the tools and resources they need to prosper, now and for generations to come,” Rykov said.
Volunteers of the Light the World Giving machines gathered at outside Bridgestone Arena this week to encourage bystanders passing to stop and swipe their card to contribute to families in need.
"This is a great opportunity to swipe your credit card and buy a coat for someone in the Nashville area who needs a coat, or buy food for someone in the world who needs food for their family," volunteer Laura Harris said. "This is a great opportunity for the community of Nashville to give back to different communities throughout the world."
The giving machines allow donors to spend $2 to $500 on items ranging from a box of macaroni to bunk beds. There are five local charities and two global charities that donors can contribute to.
The Nashville International Center for Empowerment, a nonprofit known as NICE, has resettled more than 100 Afghan refugees and is likely to greet over 200 Afghan allies by February 2022.
In 2005, the organization was founded by Gatluak Ter Thach, a Sudanese refugee. He began teaching his wife and members of the Sudanese community English. His generosity helped grow the nonprofit organization to what it is today.
The organization serves refugees by providing numerous programs such as resettlement, education, employment, health, and immigration.
"The wrap-around services we have right now to serve refugees that are coming through our agents help get them on the path toward being economically self-sufficient," Rykov said. "We also get them connected to the community. There is nothing more important than having a network."
New refugees will receive the items as they settle into their new homes.
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints covers the machine and maintenance costs, credit, and any administrative fees. All donations made to the machines go directly to charities including NICE. Visitors can visit Light the World Giving Machines until Jan. 3.
For more information about the event schedule or items inside the machines, please visit GivingMachinesNashville.org.