WEST JORDAN, Utah — The holidays are usually a time of giving, but like almost everything else these days, the pandemic is disrupting that.
Randy Chappell, the Director of Basic Needs at Catholic Community Services of Utah said, "Donations have gone down a little bit just because of the pandemic. I also think we're seeing a lot more individuals camping on the streets because of COVID-19 and I think a lot of individuals facing homelessness don't want to go into resource centers or buildings where there's a possibility of catching it."
Now homeless resource providers are turning to technology with the hope it can encourage more people to donate essential supplies to those who need them the most.
The Virtual Giving Machine lets you buy new items for those experiencing homeless.
All you have to do is select the item you want to buy, copy the address of the homeless resource provider, click the "Open in Amazon " button, and then proceed to the checkout.
You do need to remember to change the shipping address to the homeless resource provider you're buying it for, otherwise, it'll turn up on your doorstep rather than theirs.
Don Adamson, the Executive Director of HomeAid Utah said, "Part of the purpose of the Virtual Giving Machine is to get those resources donated to a reliable device provider so that the donors can be assured that their dollars are being used properly."
The donation process isn't extremely complicated, but there's room for improvement.
"It’s something that we’re still continuing to refine, and work on, and streamline," said Adamson.
Already, there are some positive results since the Virtual Giving Machine launched last month.
Chappell said CCS has received close to $1,000 worth of items that we can now give out to individuals facing homelessness."
You can also see how far away each item is from its goal, and once the goal is met the object tile disappears, to make sure homeless resource providers are getting the essential items they need.
"The biggest need right now is warm clothing, underwear, socks, and feminine hygiene products," said Chappell.
The Virtual Giving Machine was designed as part of a project at Brigham Young University.
One of the college students from the team now works for HomeAid Utah and is helping maintain and develop the Virtual Giving Machine.