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Thunder Galleria welcomes kid customers

By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Rocklin High School junior Janis Chung can remember every detail inside and out of Thunder Galleria: the ambience, the festive energy, the hours of planning, and above all, the sense of satisfaction she derived from the event itself.
“How could you possibly say no to putting smiles on children’s faces during this magical night?” smiled Chung.
Chung directed The Thunder Galleria Board of Directors, which consisted of 12 students who began planning the event last May under the guidance of College and Career Center Specialist Cindy Cutts.
Thunder Galleria originally began as one student’s senior project years ago and is now deemed a Rocklin High signature program. The actual event has no association with the Galleria mall in Roseville.
The communities of Rocklin and Roseville celebrated Rocklin High’s 11th annual Thunder Galleria on Dec. 13 where underprivileged elementary school age children had the opportunity to “shop” for their families using Thunderbucks.
School clubs and groups set up their own “stores” to display their merchandise, which ranged from dolls to board games to hand-knitted mittens.
All items were new or nearly new and donated by Rocklin’s student body. Approximately 21.1 percent of the student body donated items and toys to the cause, according to a survey conducted by Rocklin High School’s student paper, The Flash.
Toys and items that were not “purchased” are directly donated to local charities.
Donations also came through Thunder Galleria T-shirt sales, which helped pay to print the photos. The student body also contributed to the event by producing more than 300 volunteers to serve as “elves” who took children from store to store.
According to the Thunder Galleria Board of Directors, more elves showed up to the actual event than signed up. Elves adhered to rules such as no texting during the event and keeping their child in sight for the entire evening. Bi-lingual elves were especially an asset to the event.
Some students volunteered to be store clerks, some students wrapped the gifts, and other students photographed children with Santa and Disney princesses. High schoolers say they genuinely enjoy participating in the event.
Activities were not limited to shopping and pictures either. Children could also decorate cookies and create cards to share with their family.
Parents of the children said they admired the event’s organization and the extensive planning put into the event. In addition to the logistics of the event, parents said they liked the skills their children could take away from the event: independence, generosity and thoughtfulness.
The event not only attracted the interest of current Rocklin High students and staff, but also that of Rocklin alumni. Rocklin graduates who had participated in the event previous years decided to return.
“As stressful as it is, it is all worth it,” said Board of Directors member Alicia Phillips. “Seeing the kids walk in lights up my night.”

For more photos: Happy holiday shopping at Thunder Galleria