TIMBERVILLE — It was the moment students at Plains Elementary School had been waiting for all week — the first use of the school’s new book vending machine.
The lucky student, fourth grader Carina Hoffeditz, stepped up to the machine and carefully considered her options. After a few minutes, Carina dropped her token into the coin slot and hit A4.
Carina, along with Principal Joseph Kapuchuck and a few student and teacher bystanders, watched as “Survival Tails” moved forward and then fell — only to get stuck before reaching the bottom of the machine.
“Nooo,” Kapuchuck said. He tried for a few minutes to get the book out, only to determine that the key was needed to open the machine up and retrieve the book.
Despite the temporary setback, Carina was happy to have her book.
“I think it’s really cool,” she said of the book vending machine. “My class, we line up and everyone looks at it.”
Not every student has access to the vending machine. Students must earn a token by exhibiting good behavior. Carina earned hers for “always being polite,” according to her teacher.
Kapuchuck learned about book vending machines on social media, having watched a video of one at a school in Florida. Plains emphasizes literacy and reading, and Kapuchuck knew the school needed one.
He found a company in New York and got a price. It quickly became clear that the school would not be able to foot the $4,700 bill.
Kapuchuck shared the idea with his staff, and they got on board. It was decided that the school would seek a partnership with a local business or businesses to pay for the book vending machine.
Families were notified of the project and asked to share any leads they might have on businesses that would want to help. A grandfather of a student responded that Rockingham Insurance, for its 150th anniversary, wanted to pay for the vending machine in its entirety.
“They loved the idea,” Kapuchuck said. With funding in place, Kapuchuck placed an order with the New York company, which designed a machine with the school’s name and logo, along with sponsor, Rockingham Insurance.
With a $400 donation from Blue Plumbing, Kapuchuck bought books from the Green Valley Book Fair to fill the vending machine.
The machine was installed on Monday, and excitement has been running rampant. All week teachers had been emailing Kapuchuck with names of students who had earned a token.
“And the book is theirs to keep forever,” Kapuchuck said.
Bill Bayer, vice president of Rockingham Insurance, said of the donation: “We never forget that we have a responsibility to our community and helping the young readers of Plains Elementary reinforces the commitment.”