St. David wrestlers first to donate at Giving Machines

St. David High School wrestlers Jeffery Savage, left, and Nathan Cullen make a selection for their donation at the Light The World Giving Machines in Safford on Saturday. The St. David wrestling team was the first to donate, selecting senior services through SEACUS and buying chickens for developing areas. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — The St. David High School wrestling team had success at Saturday’s Digger O’Dell Invitational tournament at Pima High School, capturing two first-place finishes, a second and a fourth.

To celebrate, the team decided to give back by making a donation just before the grand opening of the Light the World Giving Machines, located in front of Safford City Hall on Saturday, making the team the first to give during the machines’ time in the Gila Valley.

“We just decided some people needed some help,” said Jeffery Savage. “Especially after a good win we got, we decided (that) we just got a bunch of stuff; let’s give a bunch of stuff to other people, just people in need.”

The players pooled their money and, with the help of coach Mitchell Udall, donated to SEACUS’ Meals on Wheels program and purchased chickens for Mentors International, which works on self-reliance with people in developing nations.

With the Gila Valley Children’s Choir looking on, Fr. Devin Gillespie, center, with All Saints Episcopal Church, welcomes everyone to the kick-off of the Giving Machines in Safford on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.
– David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

The grand opening kick-off event started at 6 p.m., with the welcome and opening prayer offered by Fr. Devin Gillespie of All Saints Episcopal Church and introduction by committee member Nona Herrington.

Attendees heard about the mission of the local nonprofits that can receive donations through the Giving Machines — SEACUS, the Boys and Girls Club of the Gila Valley, Angel’s Closet and Food Bank, and Lions Club International’s Camp Tatiyee — as well as the importance of giving from Safford Stake President Brad Montierth with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We show love to God by loving one another,” Montierth said.

The Saguaro String Quartet, from left, Franklin Alvarez, Kim Skinner, Chip Cheney and Mary Ann Ripplinger, perform “Ding Don Merrily on High” during the Giving Machines kick-off event.
– David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

Musical performances were offered by the Saguaro String Quartet and the Gila Valley Children’s Choir, before the ribbon was cut by Sue Ciancimino, director of the Gila Valley Samaritan Home for the homeless. Ciancimino also made the ceremonial first donation.

Sue Ciancimino, director of the Gila Valley Samaritan Home homeless respite and information center, cuts the ribbon officially opening the Giving Machines in Safford.
– David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

Following the opening ceremony, people enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate while they waiting for their turn at the machines to donate.

The Giving Machines will be in the Gila Valley until Dec. 14, and then travel on to Snowflake. The machines will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and volunteers will be on-hand to help with the machines’ operation.