For Audrey Kimmel, what started off as a school project in 8th grade turned into a little more than that -- now as a 9th-grader she is helping her alma mater.
“I love books and I want everyone to read books and I want everyone to have books,” says Kimmel.
Kimmel’s project started off in Mrs. Hetherington's English class. For her project, she made a cookbook of family recipes from people in Gallatin Gateway.
“I was really inspired just by our community and how tight we are and how much I love where I live,” says Kimmel.
The project is what is called "genius hour," this is where students select a research project to work on over the span of a few weeks.
“This is my sixteenth year teaching, about 10 years ago I started this project up north on the Hi-Line with some high schoolers and it was an epic failure for a few years and I just kept going,” says Hetherington.
At Gallatin Gateway School, K-8 students all have to read a certain amount of books in order to receive a token to be able to earn the books from the vending machine, and for the younger students, the vending machine has been enticing.
“Oh they are so excited they walk by it they are in awe of the machine and it's so beautiful,” says Hetherington.
And Kimmel has been the talk of the school - she was featured on the school’s own newscast.
“They just could not believe the 500-dollar donation was a big deal so she's a total celebrity,” says Hetherington. “I would not expect anything less from her, she loves this school and I am very connected by books I think.”
That passion for books is what they hope to carry on to the younger students.
“When a book feels like a reward, that's when you know it's a good book,” says Kimmel.