Thursday, December 7, 2023

A Vending Machine With a Heart


Yesterday in my Facebook memories I was briefly startled by a post which was nothing but a photograph of a wishbone.

It took a minute, and then I remembered. It was a reminder of a moment County Executive Calvin Ball’s speech last year at the swearing in ceremony for his second term.

What I wasn’t expecting was a small and deeply human story about a wishbone.

Yes, a turkey wishbone. Dr. Ball related how his late father would save the wishbone so that they could make a wish together. His voice filled with emotion, Ball recalled the moment in adulthood when he asked his father what he had been wishing for all those years. 

“I was wishing for you to get your wish.”

This sentiment - - to wish that someone else could get their wish - - was, to me, the biggest and most universal challenge of the evening. Dr. Ball took that moment to invite us to be that person who can want and work for things that won’t necessarily bring us personal honors or rewards. Honestly, that’s harder than many things we do in life. It’s as big as letting go of control, as simple as shifting the focus away from ourselves, yet as deep as a father’s love for his son.

In that moment last night I thought of my first Christmas in Howard County after marrying my now-husband. I was at the Mall with my daughter and we put Christmas letters to Santa in a mailbox put out for that purpose. Mine said, “thank you for everything. Please give someone else their wish.”- -Small World” Village Green/Town², December 6, 2023

I’ve been thinking a lot about that letter to Santa - - probably over twenty years ago now - - as I’ve been seeing photographs of something new at the Mall this holiday season.

It’s a Giving Machine. 

A Light the World Giving Machine is coming to Columbia, Maryland, for the first time ever!

The Giving Machine is the vending machine with a heart. Instead of snacks or soda, it's stacked with 30 opportunities to give to a stranger in need through seven local and global nonprofit organizations.

Give groceries to someone here in Maryland, or give a goat to someone across the world. Choose a donation card, change a life.

Visit the Columbia Giving Machine at The Mall in Columbia:  December 6-17 to GIVE where you live this holiday season. - - Light the World Giving Machine Facebook event page

Here’s how it works, from Randall Newsome of WMAR TV. Click link here

I noticed that one of the people interviewed for the story says, “People on both sides of the glass are benefiting.”

How so? If you put your money in and purchase goods or services for someone else, how does that benefit you?

It’s just like the story of Dr. Ball and his dad. As you stand in front of a machine in the Mall, during the busy holiday season, you are making a choice which resonates far beyond where you are standing. In essence, you are saying with your actions:

I was wishing for you to get your wish.

Those kinds of wishes, the kind that are connected not only to intention but to action, change us for the good. They remind us of why we are grateful for what we have and why it matters so much for us to share.  This is the quiet moment of joy when we can honestly say:

Thank you for everything. Please give someone else their wish.

The Light the World Giving Machines are at the Mall from December 6 - 17. For as little as ten dollars you can give someone else their wish.

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