Foust Elementary unveils book vending machine, hopes to encourage reading

A handful of Foust Elementary School students were all smiles Wednesday morning as they each selected a book from the school’s new book vending machine. The machine was donated by Independence Bank to reward and incentivize students to take their love of reading home, and many of the books were donated by Jack’s Stacks, the local nonprofit founded in honor of the late Jackson Roark.

Students are being encouraged to continue reading outside of the classroom. Parents and caretakers are asked to sign off on their time and once meeting the criteria, students are awarded with a token and are allowed to choose their next book. They can also earn tokens as they earn Accelerated Reading points.

The student gets to keep the book they choose, and the school will continuously replenish the selection.

“Every child has a way to get those gold coins to be able to get a book out of the book vending machine,” said Jen Hester, Foust Family Resource Coordinator. “We use a lot of the books that our kids are interested in, and we make sure that we have options for each grade level.

They get to take that book home and keep it, so they can earn multiple books throughout the year to build their library at home.”

Hester said they are grateful to David and Holly Roark, who supplied many of the books through their organization Jack’s Stacks.

In November 2019, Jackson Roark was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, and he died in July 2021. His parents, David and Holly, then formed Jack’s Stacks in his honor.

“He was in the hospital a lot going through all of his treatments and everything,” David said Wednesday at the unveiling. “Despite all the places he didn’t get to go, he did get to go to some amazing places because of books. He went to Middle Earth, he went to Hogwarts, wherever they go in Percy Jackson. He went to some amazing places and we were very, very thankful of that.”

David continued, “We decided that we were going to honor him by doing something that he was very adamant about with reading and doing acts of kindness. One of the things we decided was very important is making sure that people have books to read. We wanted to make sure we gave that opportunity to as many kids as possible.”

This is the second machine that Independence Bank has donated to an Owensboro Public School. The first was donated to Estes Elementary in August of 2021.

Nick Oller, Market President for Daviess County, said Independence Bank places a major focus on giving back, especially when it comes to education.

“We are a community bank,” Oller said. “We are about giving back to our community. ‘Being here for good’ is not just a motto to us. It’s not just another campaign. It is about putting our communities at the forefront and continuing to give back. Today is just another special day for us to give back to the education sector.”

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