Special vending machine puts students on national radar

Special vending machine puts students on national radar

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport High School is once again on the national radar.

The big box in the back of the Gulfport High robotics lab was once a vending machine for snacks. Now, it can provide much need personal care items for the homeless - no money needed.

"There's one thing I want from this project....to encourage people to do more to solve problems here in this community," said senior Patrick Camacho, who is on the school's National Technical Honors Society team that came up with the idea.

The idea is the result of a challenge by the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. For being one of 10 national finalists, Gulfport High School will receive $50,000 in technology, and a trip to New York to present to judges on March 14.

If they win, the students will receive $150,000 in technology.

The solar-powered project may not be finished until the end of year. Financial support is necessary, and senior Jendayi London is in charge of community outreach.

"People are reacting well," London said. "When we tell them this is, what we've done so far, they're like 'I want to get involved', and 'This is a great project.'"

Advisor Clint Brawley is impressed with his students.

"These are the ones that actually want to fix what's wrong with the world, and giving them the different aspects to do it, it's amazing," Brawley said. "They never cease to surprise me."

Thanks to project manager Ashley Brock, the team met all its deadlines for the contest.

"Seeing something, some old vending machine that wasn't even working, now is producing essential need products for people in our community who need them – that's like a dream come true for me essentially."

The team will place its first machine at the Nourishing Place in Gulfport by the end of the school term.

Supporters can vote online for the team to determine the community choice award, by going to Samsung.com/solve and by use the hashtag #SamsungSolveGPHS on social media.

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