Tucson school’s new book vending machine has a lot of heart

Dispensing books and heart, vending machine honors Andra Dalrymple

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Some students will find a new vending machine on campus when they head back to school next month.

It won’t be filled with chips or soda, but a reward to read.

The Book-O-Matic will be ready for business at Homer Davis Elementary in the Flowing Wells School District. The vending machine is being donated by the Andra Heart Foundation.

Jenine Dalrymple’s daughter, Andra, collapsed after soccer tryouts at Flowing Wells Junior High in 2010. She died of an undiagnosed heart condition.

Since her daughter’s death, Dalrymple has worked to make sure the heartbreak doesn’t happen to another student, family or community.

The foundation’s plan is to “Save the World, One Heart at a Time.” Dalrymple said they provide education and testing for sudden cardiac death. With the help of volunteers, the foundation also offers cardiac screening programs in Tucson and Eastern Washington State.

“This year will be our ninth year of cardiac screening at Flowing Wells, so we do free EKG’s and free echo-cardiograms for kids,” said Dalrymple.

The ‘Book-O-Matic’ is a first for the foundation, thanks to Tomdra. After Dalrymple saw an article about a book vending machine on the east coast a few months ago, she said she knew she wanted to add one to the Flowing Wells School District. That’s where the Tucson vending company stepped in to help with the idea.

“It’s pretty much a basic thing, we just had to fine-tune it to work with the right products,” said service manager Phil Scekatz.

The vending machine won’t cost students money. Instead, Dalrymple said, it is going to be used as an incentives program.

"Getting books in kids hands is super important," said Dalrymple.

The books will be stocked throughout the year as students make their selection. Dalrymple said they chose books her daughter and family love, especially one novel: “How to Steal a Dog” by Barbara O’Connor.

The book is about a girl who thinks she might steal a dog to get reward money so her family won’t be homeless. It’s a story that stuck with Andra.

"She was just so moved by the idea that there might be kids that she knew or that someone her age would have that struggle, that it really shaped kind of how she looked forward," said Dalrymple. "She always had a plan to save the world."

A plan that Dalrymple will continue in several different ways, through testing, water bottles and fountains and now, books.

So far, volunteers with the Andra Heart Foundation have screened over 4,000 students for hidden cardiac conditions and helped provide more than 800 sports physicals.

The foundation has also supplied 35 schools or families with Automatic Electronic Defibrillators.

"Flowing Wells community absolutely stepped up and supported us at the most difficult time of our life and it just gives me so much pleasure to do the same thing back for them," Dalrymple said.

The Andra Heart Foundation is hosting a Movie Night on Saturday, June 20 at the Fox Theatre in Downtown Tucson. All proceeds will go to the foundation. The ‘Book-O-Matic’ will be there to test out with any donation.

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