Rocklin High School's Thunder Galleria helps hundreds in need

Students organize 12th annual charity event
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Placer Herald and Press Tribune editor
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Spirits were high Monday evening as hundreds of youngsters in need filed into the Rocklin High School cafeteria to go holiday shopping at the Thunder Galleria.

The “mall” is organized each year by students who want to help others each Christmas. Each child is paired with a high school “elf” who serves as a personal shopper. The best part? The gifts were all donated by Rocklin community members, so the children receive them for free.

“The kids aren’t coming for themselves,” explained Cynthia Cutts, director of Rocklin High’s College and Career Center. “So Thunder Galleria really teaches about giving. Every item that’s in our ‘shopping mall’ in there has been donated. So somebody has already given it once, and we are going to give it again.”

Thunder Galleria started as a student’s senior project in 2000 and has become a holiday tradition at Rocklin High. Event chair and senior Charisse Palaad said more than 250 “elves” help out at the event, which helped more than 200 children this year.

The children are recommended for the event by area elementary school personnel who see a need. The gifts ranged from books and games to musical instruments, bicycles, movies and even a huge stuffed unicorn that Palaad admitted she was “almost sad to part with.”

“It’s just a good opportunity to help people who are less fortunate than us,” said Brooke Solomon as she organized books before the Galleria opened. “And we really see the impact with the little kids, working with them, just how excited they are