SALT LAKE CITY — This year's #LightTheWorld service campaign, run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will look a little different due to COVID-19 precautions — but despite setbacks, the church is encouraging everyone worldwide to join the initiative and focus on service this holiday season.
The most notable change will be the absence of Giving Machines, the large red vending machines which are typically a staple of the project that allow people to purchase items to donate to charity. Prior to the pandemic, the church planned to expand the machines into new locations but ultimately decided to postpone the use of all machines until 2021.
While people won't be able to use the machines, church officials are still hoping participants will be just as generous as in years past: Last year, the machines helped raise $6.2 million in food, supplies, clean water, sanitation and personal development workshops for those in need.
The church has also encouraged people to donate to or serve with trusted local organizations or one of its multiple global charity partners. Those looking to volunteer safely in the pandemic can join an ongoing service project in their area at JustServe.Org.
Church officials are hoping participants find creative ways to serve and give back in the absence of the Giving Machines. People can even sign up for daily service prompts sent via text or email for more ideas on how to spread joy.
This year has brought challenges to many with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented economic crisis and other natural disasters.
That's why the church is hoping to end the year on a positive note as people come together "at this time of great global need" and share light "through simple, meaningful acts of service," officials wrote in a news release.
"During these unique and troubling times, we have the opportunity to make a difference in small and natural ways," Elder Marcus B. Nash, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the church's missionary department, said in a news release. "We can be a light that can shine to the world. We invite all to join with us this Christmas season and light the world, one person at a time, one by one, just as the Savior did."
As of midday Monday, more than 96,000 people had joined the initiative to "Light The World."