December 25, 2021
By Heather Wimmer
Have you heard of The Giving Machines? There are only ten of them in the world, and this year there is one in Kansas City. It is a vending machine where you can buy specific items for charities, and they are at Crown Center, just below the Ice Terrace this month. When our family went, we had a fun time skating together, and then bought items to benefit Hope House, because we know Tina Johnson.
Tina Johnson is a local businesswoman familiar to many in Lee’s Summit. She owned Miss Bear’s and Company boutique and Health Fit Style by Tina in downtown Lee’s Summit. Some may know that Tina is also a survivor of domestic violence. She went public with her story at a benefit for Hope House at John’s Barbershop, and has since published a book about escaping from her abuser, who tried to lure her and her children back for a murder/suicide at the time she was herself receiving shelter from Hope House. (“Goodbye to Shame: Removing the Mask” by Tina Bears, is available on amazon.com and in Christian books stores.)
When I asked her how it felt to have her story and life be so very public, Johnson said, “It is so freeing. Not a lot of domestic violence survivors feel safe to tell their stories. There are some victims who don’t even feel they deserve healing.” She told how it took years of therapy and working through the shame and guilt associated with domestic violence, and the fact that her abuser is no longer living, to be able to share her experiences freely.
Because of this conversation, it felt very meaningful when our family purchased a night of safe shelter and a session of therapy at the Giving Machines after we went ice skating this month. Those are things people like Tina Johnson need and receive from Hope House.
The Giving Machines will be available at Crown Center until January 2. This year they are benefiting local charities Hope House, The Don Bosco Centers, Operation Breakthrough and Hope Faith-Homeless Assistance Campus as well as UNHCR (the UN agency that serves refugees) and Christian World Service. To learn more about the Giving Machines, visit givingmachineskc.org.