Thunder Galleria gives 250 kids a special holiday

By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald Correspondent
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It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas with toys in every “shop” for Rocklin High School. The school hosted its 10th annual Thunder Galleria Dec. 7, where the school cafeteria was transformed into a mall for 250 children of low-income families to come shop using Thunder Bucks. The festive event began as one senior’s community service project years ago, and evolved into Rocklin High’s signature service project to the community that continues to attract a large interest of student volunteers. More than 200 workers helped organize the event. Advised by Cindy Cutts of the College and Career Center at Rocklin High, a group of students known as the Thunder Galleria Board of Directors began planning the event in October. “There are a lot of things that have to go right,” said senior Nick Schafer, who headed the board of directors. “There are elementary and high school kids. You have to control the chaos.” Schafer also said the weather was a factor the board had to consider when they planned. Students who were not a part of the board of directors could help as shopkeepers or elves. Most “shops” were set up by school clubs and displayed merchandise ranging anywhere from books and games, to jewelry and father’s gifts. A plethora of clubs and shopkeepers did not solicit businesses for donations, but rather collected gently-used or new items from the student body. The French Club set up a cookie-decorating station, while California Scholarship Federation organized a gift-wrapping station. The Global Awareness Club set up a card table. In addition to organizing an ornament-decorating station, the Art Club painted wintery designs on the cafeteria windows. Shoppers could have their picture taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, or Disney princes and princesses. Elves helped children select gifts for their family and friends from the variety of shops. Student elves took their children from shop to shop to help select a gift for family and friends. According to Cutts, this year’s event was more organized than previous Gallerias because the elves were paired with their shoppers in the library. Last year, the elves were paired with their shoppers in the cafeteria, where the event takes place. Prior to Tuesday, elves received their “elf license.” The two most important rules for elves included to not text during the shopping, and of course, to not lose their child. Bilingual elves were especially an asset to the event. “Thunder Galleria is a great way to help the kids during Christmas time and being an elf is an extremely rewarding experience,” Rocklin High junior Safa Casim said. “Seeing the looks on the kids’ faces just light up when they find the perfect gift for their family members; it just makes you so happy that you were able to do this for them.”