By Madison Austin
Dec 04, 2018

How Scouts can Help “Light the World” This Christmas: Week 1

This Christmas, we are following along with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ “Light the World” movement. Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, spent much of His ministry caring for individuals, one by one. This movement encourages everyone to follow His example this Christmas and find ways to share our time, love, and resources with those in need.

Once a week, until Christmas, we will explore the ways Scouts and families can Light the World by helping others as Jesus Christ would. We hope you will follow along with us this holiday season and share your stories of how you and your Scouts have helped to Light the World.

Week 1: Light the World

Jesus Christ taught, “Ye are the light of the world.” We can share that light to all of God’s children when we give as He gave to people near and far.

For the first week of this movement, we are focusing on the idea that Jesus’s love knows no bounds. Let’s discover ways that you can help someone in another part of the world.

Giving Machines 

Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, speaks to a group of media and local leaders during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the #LightTheWorld giving machines, which opened in Gilbert, Arizona, on Thursday, November 29. Photo by Jill Adair.

Found in multiple locations across the world, giving machines are the Church’s way for families and individuals to give to those in need across the world. Our closest giving machines can be found in Salt Lake City in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. 

These machines are just like vending machines. However, the contents may be a little different from what you’re used to. A variety of items are available to purchase at any of these giving machines, including food, clothing, eyeglasses, medicine, hygiene supplies, wheelchairs, sporting equipment, and livestock. Anyone can purchase any of these items, however, your purchase isn’t delivered to you out of the mouth of the vending machine. Instead, your purchase is delivered to someone in need.

Although Giving Machines can be found in 5 locations across the world, each one has items from local partners as well. For example, 2018 marks the second year the Church has partnered with the Utah Food Bank specifically in the vending machines.

Ginette Bott, president and CEO of the Utah Food Bank, talks about the Light the World giving machine in the lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, November 28, 2018. “Last year,” she says, “…they garnered over 282,000 meals through the donations that we gathered through this process,” Bott said. “That’s a lot of food. We fed a lot of families in Utah. But above and beyond the dollars and meals is the education, the awareness.”

Sister Reyna Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, added: “No matter our circumstances, we want to help others. Everybody can help. And hopefully, we can find ways to help each other know that they matter and they are important.”

The machines will be available through the Christmas season and partner with global charities such as CARE, UNICEF, WaterAid, Water for People, Eye Care 4 Kids, Utah Food Bank, and Utah Refugee Connection.

Help Refugees in your Area and Across the World

There are approximately 65,000 refugees living in Utah. Refugees in Utah come from 60+ countries and speak 40+ languages. This Christmas, Light the World by helping this large and diverse population feel more welcome, safe, and comfortable in your area. 

There are many different ways to help and support refugees, both at the local and global level. And don’t forget, your Scouts can spearhead service projects to specifically help refugees. From Eagle Scout projects to donation drives, youth can make a big impact this holiday season and on. 

Some of the goods available to purchase in the giving machines also help local refugees and include basic items—a home essentials kit, cleaning supplies, diapers, and even a volleyball. “We go through 100 to 450 kits a week,” says Amy Dott Harmer, executive director of the Utah Refugee Connection. “These are items that are most helpful to [refugees].”

Scouts can also collect items to donate to refugees in need. The International Rescue Committee has a great list of items needed, including personal hygiene kits, cleaning supplies, winter coats and boots, home goods, furniture, and gift cards. A collection drive is a great way for Scouts to participate directly in helping refugees. The IRC has a drop-off location in Salt Lake City.

Connect with People from Other Cultures

A more simple, but still meaningful, way to help Light the World is to seek out someone from a different culture and learn their story. Maybe even invite a guest to a weekly troop or youth group meeting and have them share about their culture. 

A great way to incorporate advancement into your “Light the World” efforts could be to introduce your Scouts to the American Cultures Merit Badge. The requirements for this badge tells Scouts to learn about three different cultures that have different racial, cultural, national, or ethnic backgrounds. The requirements also explain ways that Scouts can learn about these different cultures within our country. For example, Scouts can go to a library or museum, a festival, or a place of worship to get a first-hand experience.

By learning about different cultures and peoples, we learn to love our fellow men the way Christ does. He does not distinguish between race, ethnicity, or nationality, and neither should we. This lesson is perfect for families and Scouts to remember this holiday season, as we try to follow the Savior’s example. 

Read “How Scouts can Help “Light the World” This Christmas: Week 2″


Author: Madison Austin | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council 

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