The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - 16

the gist

KHYM AND SHANE SPIKES

Books from a Vending Machine
" THERE'S THIS ONE KID, " says Khym Spikes,
" whose life is hard. He's had some extreme behavior. But
he earned his first token last week and he'll get it when
we get back to school Monday. He's really excited. "
The token was for a book. The young fellow was given
a token for outstanding accomplishment at Colonial
Elementary School in Botetourt County. The token fits
a vending machine that dispenses books, which he will
be able to take home and keep.
This is all part of a gift from Shane and Khym Spikes
to the school where she teaches fifth grade.
" Our principal found a photo in a magazine of a
vending machine that dispensed books and asked if we
could do that, " says Khym.
Shane's company, Deli-Matic in Salem, has gone
from owning and managing vending machines to a
more sophisticated and varied method of dispensing
food, primarily in businesses' break rooms. When it
made the switch, there were a lot of vending machines
going unused.
The principal's question sparked a quest by the
Spikeses to furnish a vending machine for children's
books. That meant re-engineering a vending machine
so that instead of potato chips and candy bars, it would
belch out books when a token (and not money) was
inserted.
16

MAY/JUNE 2020

" It took months to re-configure, " says Khym, and
workers at Deli-Matic enthusiastically jumped in to
widen columns, replace the motor, figure out how to
use tokens instead of quarters.
Almost instantly the " kids loved it, " says Khym.
" There is a great incentive to read instead of getting
a toy or candy for doing well. ... It pushes kids who
otherwise wouldn't care " about reading.
The books are donated from various sources and
Botetourt's superintendent of schools has won a grant
to buy books for the vending machine.
" He came to see it the second day it was in
operation, " says Khym.
" Right now, " says Shane, " the machine is at Colonial,
but if somebody approached us and I had another
vending machine, we'd consider creating another " book
vendor.
Deli-Matic is a 41-year-old company founded by
Shane's father, Jimmy Spikes, who evolved from a Tom's
Potato Chips assistant plant manager, to owner of a
distributorship, to the vending machine business, often
in convenience stores. Shane took it to the next step.
The book vendor, of course, is not a profit center. The
couple got involved because " it seemed like the right
thing to do, " says Shane.
Just about everybody agrees. -DAN SMITH
TheRoanoker.com

DAN SMITH

Though schools are now closed at Colonial Elementary School, free books come from a machine that
used to issue potato chips. And the books are rewards.


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The Roanoker - May/June 2020

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