Updated November 4, 2021 - 12:40 pm
Las Vegas native Dan Reynolds, frontman of rock band Imagine Dragons, visited Downtown Summerlin this week to buy a smorgasboard of items at a bright-red vending machine, but the items weren’t for himself.
The vending machine, called the Giving Machine, lets donors contribute to local nonprofits and international giving campaigns. Reynolds was this year’s first donor.
He said his family values the importance of charity and selflessness. As a teen, Reynolds even worked with one of the benefiting nonprofits, Opportunity Village, for his Eagle Scout project.
“This is for our kids. This is to show them what life is about,” he said during a Wednesday kickoff event for the Giving Machine. “It’s to teach them a quick lesson that it’s not about TikTok. It’s not about likes on Instagram. Your self-love, your self-worth, your joy in life will come from giving to others.”
Sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the machine allows individuals to purchase items ranging from $3 to $300. But instead of dispensing the selections — clothing and dental hygiene items, meals or school supplies — the contribution is logged for nonprofit beneficiaries. Donors also can underwrite college admission application or test score fees and job skills training.
This year’s local nonprofit beneficiaries include Communities in Schools of Nevada, Eye Care 4 Kids, Three Square, Future Smiles and Opportunity Village. Global beneficiaries include the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Church World Service Global.
Giving Machine launched in the Las Vegas-area in 2019 and raised $823,000 — about $470,000 of which went to local nonprofits, according to the church. The project was on hiatus in 2020. This year, Las Vegas is one of 10 cities with the initiative.
Communities in Schools CEO Tami Hance-Lehr said the organization received about $90,000 from the machine in 2019, which helped it support 53 schools across the valley. The nonprofit works on dropout prevention, and this year’s donation includes a USB port for digital learning access, school uniforms, graduation supplies and underwriting college admission fees.
“They go right into our schools and help our students eliminate whatever barrier it is that keeps them from coming to school,” Hance-Lehr said.
Jeff Parker, who oversees the Giving Machine project in Las Vegas, said the initiative issuccessful because people see the big and small ways they can get involved and help those in need.
“We seek to follow the example of Jesus Christ or any others that we follow, that we see as an example in our lives that help us do good,” Parker said.
The Giving Machine will stay in Downtown Summerlin, across from Macy’s, through Jan. 3.
McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.