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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2022 Merchandise Director Justin Kauffman

Name: Justin Kauffman.

Major: Finance with a minor in Economics

Past THON Experience
THON 2020 Dancer Relations committee member
THON 2021 Merchandise Special Event sales captain

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

I like to wear shorts all year round. Every day is a sunny day to me!

What made you want to apply for the Merchandise director position for THON 2022?

THON has been such a vital part of my entire life. Going to a high school that was heavily involved in Mini-THON, I knew I always wanted to go to Penn State, to pursue my dreams of trying to help this organization any way I can. I applied for Merchandise director because I wanted a larger responsibility to do my part in the fight against childhood cancer, while also connecting my business ideas to the organization I love. I have always had a passion for clothes and business, so it was a no-brainer to combine my passions of THON, business, and clothes altogether. In our fight against childhood cancer, we try and do everything we can to take the burden off the courageous families and children. I always like to say that the children and families are my heroes every day, and I am confident that one day, we will dance in celebration!

What are your responsibilities as the Merchandise director?

As the director of Merchandise for THON 2022, I am in charge of everything you see the community wearing related to THON. I work with different suppliers to make sure that we have proper inventory, I work on pages that are put up on our online store, work with other organizations when it comes to Merchandise designs. I also am one of the sources for customers of the THON Store if they have any questions, comments, or concerns, I also compile different numbers to look at our finances and what we can do to best serve the THON community. I like to think that I am the behind-the-scenes businessman, trying to make the best decision not just for the THON Store, but for the organization as a whole.

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

Throughout this year, we have made great improvements both for our online store and the THON Store. For the online store, my main goal is to keep it updated and make sure everything is counted properly, while also giving our
online customers a great experience. Since the pandemic, lots of customers have moved to shopping online, and so we reflected to see what we could improve. At the THON Store, we are all about updating our store presence both in the front and in the back. We made use of some clear bins so that we can keep better track of our physical inventory. I think what’s different from years past is that we are trying to have a strong presence online and in person by utilizing all the resources we have at our disposal

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

The Merchandise committee is always cool because of what we get to do behind the scenes. It is quite funny that people often have no idea how much work it takes to source new merchandise, come up with fresh designs, and manage the business side of this committee – we love to surprise people with new merchandise! As a committee, we love to have fun by being in our home…the THON Store. After hours, we are always back there either counting shirts or filling orders, and we somehow always have a blast. Every THON committee plays such a vital role in the THON community. I would say that what makes us different is that we reach a broad audience with the shirts and other merchandise that we make, and you never know who’s going to put on one of your shirts.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2022?

One goal I have for the Merchandise committee is to reuse older products. We have items from years past that we are trying to bring back because every year of THON has special memories for our audience. THON is a year-round event, so we are trying to give people access to their favorite THON memory through apparel. Another goal of mine this year was to create an open environment for my captains. We work super hard on the business side of THON as volunteers, but I want to treat them as students, brothers, and sisters, and actually get to know them for who they are. We all come with a reason why we are here and look to learn what motivates us, and throughout the year, I’ve been learning more and more about my captains and myself.

Why do you THON?

I THON so that one day we dance in celebration. No child or family should be taking on this fight alone and doing anything I can to support them throughout past years, this year, and the years to come is the least I can do. The children and families are truly my heroes every single day, and they are the reason I call THON home. I THON for my friend Jesse King, and all the children going through treatment, and our angels that have sadly lost their courageous fight.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory is attending my first ever THON when I was still in high school. It was junior year, and our Mini-THON came to Penn State for THON Weekend. I had always heard such amazing things about THON Weekend, and I was so excited to be a supporter in the stands. As I walked onto the concourse and up the steps to the bleachers, I was truly mesmerized by seeing everyone coming together as one. Seeing so many people on the floor dancing, singing, running around truly put a smile on my face, and it was the moment that I knew that my fight for this organization was just beginning and that Penn State would be my future home.

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

Well, apparently I’m a Velociraptor, per the National Geographic quiz. I think I best fit the personality of a Velociraptor because I love to be a leader of a group, while also trying to be the calming force, and remaining humble everywhere I go.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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