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School debuts book vending machine

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DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Southwest Elementary School debuted a new vending machine in their cafeteria Wednesday morning, but it did not have any snacks inside.

Educators at the school have their students set reading goals every month. To help them reach those goals, they installed a book vending machine.

“Somebody had posted the idea of a vending machine and I thought, ‘I’m gonna run with it and see if the foundation would support it,'” says Principal Lindsey Prunkard. “[I] thought it would be a great way to motivate our students here at school and just a unique way to get books in the hands of kids.”

The ribbon was cut on the vending machine Wednesday morning. Every time a student hits their goal, they get a token for a free book. Eight students from just one third grade class hit their goals in January. They were excited to be the first to use the machine.

“Slacker,” said Tucker Powell when asked what book he chose. “Because it looks like a really cool book and I like chapter books.”

Some students have been eyeing books in the machine since it was installed. Prunkard says they helped choose what got put in. On Wednesday, she got to see her vision come to life.

“I mean that’s really what it’s all about,” says Prunkard. “Helping motivate our students and getting them to want to read and having them set goals and achieve them.”

The vending machine is the first of its kind in the district. The cost for it and the first wave of books was almost $6,000. The Danville Public School Foundation’s donors gave the money for the project. The organization is hoping it will promote the idea of reading for pleasure and help students build home libraries.

“We thought it was a fantastic idea and that’s why we funded it,” says Executive Director Bob Richard. “My problem isn’t, ‘How do we pay for this one?’ How do we pay for the rest of the ones when other principals see this and say, ‘Hey we want one too!'”

The school’s Title I fund will be used to refill the machine, and they may need to soon. Students are already setting new goals to get their free book.

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