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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2020 Merchandise Director Alex Thomas

Name: Alex Thomas
Major: Biomedical Engineering

Past THON Experience:
THON 2018: Merchandise Committee Member
THON 2019: Merchandise Customer Relations Captain

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself:

I took figure skating lessons until I was 12 years old.

What made you want to apply for the Merchandise Director position for THON 2020?

I applied for the Merchandise Director position for THON 2020 because I want to spread THON’s mission as far across the world as I’m able to. Through quality merchandise, volunteers and supporters have the capacity to represent and promote THON in each of their encounters – no matter how far from State College they may be. In this position, I have the opportunity to interact with hundreds of stakeholders, all while bringing joy to customers, emotionally supporting families, and financially contributing to THON.

What are your responsibilities as Merchandise Director?

As the Merchandise Director, my responsibilities include managing the design, order, sale, and distribution of all THON apparel. Throughout the year, 20 captains and 40 committee members help run the THON Store in the HUB, which acts as a physical store for customers and a center of distribution for thousands of online orders each year. By providing apparel for a variety of special events and THON Weekend, the Merchandise Committee and I are able to provide a means through which everyone can support THON.

What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and different from past years?

My goal is to enhance the internal workings and logistics of the Merchandise Committee in an effort to improve customer satisfaction and continue to raise money toward the fight against childhood cancer. So far, we have collaborated with the Technology Committee to debut POST, a point-of-sale system that automatically updates our inventory counts that are synced to a database in our THON Information Network. Through this technology, we have real-time access to inventory counts in our various storage units, and we can manage and track movement of inventory across our campus. In addition, we’re working on improving the THON Store’s social media presence, increasing the scope of our vendors, and working with the Finance Committee to allow individuals to credit a portion of their purchases to their organization or committee.

What makes the Merchandise Committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

The Merchandise Committee is such a unique aspect of THON because it operates similarly to any typical retail store, but it’s run entirely by a group of students. Merchandise features a collection of THON Captains who each have diverse backgrounds, experiences, and aspirations. Between creative designers, analytical financial forecasters, caring customer service contacts, logistical event planners, and so much more, the Merchandise Committee allows students to put their career aspirations to the test in a real-world setting, all while enjoying time in the THON Store and making an impact in the lives of children and families.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2020? 

My primary goal for the Merchandise Committee is to minimize the disparity between the THON Store and professional retail stores. Throughout the year, we’ve worked on improving our professionalism through establishing a social media presence, reformatting the product photos of our online store, keeping detailed financial records of all sales and events, and strategizing our products and their release. By doing so, we hope to establish our presence as a reputable, credible, and dependable retail store.

Why do you THON?

Since my first day as a THON Volunteer, I’ve discovered the magic and energy that differentiate THON from any other organization I’ve worked with. The altruistic nature of its volunteers, its ability to foster lifelong relationships, and its capacity to improve the lives of everyone who experience it are such unique characteristics of THON. There are hundreds of reasons why I THON, and each of those contributes to my desire to augment my involvement in this organization. Most importantly, I THON because I have been blessed to experience a healthy childhood, and I believe that nothing in this world should have the ability to take that from a child. I THON so that every child has the opportunity to grow up and follow their dreams.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory is experiencing the Family Carnival for the first time as a Merchandise Captain last year. The Merchandise Committee completes a lot of behind-the-scenes work throughout many of THON’s major events, so being front and center with THON’s children and families for the first time brought so much more meaning to the work that volunteers put into our cause. Being able to see the joy and excitement that children felt in that moment — and to be able to experience those emotions alongside them — made me feel as if we can accomplish anything we set our minds to.

Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why? 

Definitely a T-Rex. My arms are so stubby.

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About the Author

Cassady Potts

Cassady is a junior English and journalism major and Onward State's Student Life Editor. She is from York, Pennsylvania and loves iced coffee, books, and women's volleyball. You can find her on campus by looking for the girl who always wears stripes. Feel free to send any questions, comments, or memes via email ([email protected]) and follow her @cassady_potts on Twitter.

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