THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2022 Merchandise Director Justin Kauffman

Name: Justin Kaufman.

Major: Finance with a minor in economics

Past TUNA experience
Member of the THON 2020 dancer relations committee
2021 THON Merchandise Special Event Sales Captain

Name an interesting, bizarre or quirky fact about yourself:

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

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

TUNA has been such a vital part of my whole life. Going to a high school heavily involved in Mini-THON, I knew I had always wanted to go to Penn State, to pursue my dreams of trying to help this organization in any way I could. I applied for the Merchandise Director position because I wanted greater responsibility for doing my part in the fight against childhood cancer, while connecting my business ideas to the organization I love. I’ve always had a passion for clothing and business, so it was a no-brainer to combine my passions of THON, business and clothing. In our fight against childhood cancer, we try to do everything we can to ease the burden on courageous families and children. I always like to say that kids and families are my everyday heroes, and I’m sure one day we’ll be dancing in celebration!

What are your responsibilities as Merchandise Manager?

As Merchandise Director for THON 2022, I am responsible for everything you see the community wearing related to THON. I work with different vendors to ensure we have proper inventory, I work on pages that go live on our online store, I work with other organizations regarding merchandise designs. I am also one of the sources for THON store customers if they have any questions, comments or concerns, I also compile various numbers to review our finances and what we can do to better serve the THON community. I like to think of myself as the business man behind the scenes, 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 is unique and different from past years?

Throughout this year, we have made great improvements to both our online store and the THON store. For the online store, my main goal is to keep it up to date and make sure everything is counted correctly, while giving our
online customers a great experience. Since the pandemic, many customers have switched to online shopping, so we’ve been brainstorming to see what we can improve. At the THON store, we are doing everything we can to update our store presence both front and back. We used transparent bins to better track our physical inventory. I think what’s different from years past is that we’re trying to have a strong online and in-person presence using all the resources we have.

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

The merchandise committee is always cool because of what we can do behind the scenes. It’s kind of funny that people often have no idea how much work it takes to come up with new merchandise, come up with new designs, and manage the business side of this committee – we love surprising people with new merchandise! As a committee, we like to have fun being at home… the THON store. After hours, we’re always back, either counting shirts or filling orders, and we’re always having fun. Each THON committee plays a vital role in the THON community. I would say what sets us apart is that we reach a wide 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 general objectives that you hope to achieve with your committee for THON 2022?

One goal I have for the Merchandise Committee is to reuse older products. We have items from past years that we try to bring back because each year of THON has special memories for our audience. THON is a year-round event, so we try to give people access to their favorite THON souvenir through clothing. Another of my goals this year was to create an open environment for my captains. We work very hard on the business side of THON as volunteers, but I want to treat them like students, brothers and sisters, and get to know them for who they are. We all come with a reason why we are here and find out what motivates us, and throughout the year I have learned more and more about my captains and myself.

Why TUNA?

I THON so that one day we dance in celebration. No child or family should take on this fight alone and doing all I can to support them over the past years, this year and the years to come is the least I can do. Children and families are truly my heroes every day, and they are the reason I call THON home. I THON for my friend Jesse King, and all the kids going through treatment, and our angels who sadly lost their brave fight.

What is your favorite TUNA memory?

My favorite THON memory is attending my very first THON while I was still in high school. It was junior year and our Mini-THON came to Penn State for the THON weekend. I had always heard amazing things about the THON weekend, and I was so excited to be a fan in the stands. As I walked down the hall and up the steps to the bleachers, I was truly mesmerized seeing everyone gather. Seeing so many people on the floor dancing, singing, running really made me smile, and that’s when I knew my fight for this organization was just beginning and that Penn State would be my future. home.

According to Onward State lore, if you could be any dinosaur, what would you be and why?

Well, apparently I’m a Velociraptor, according to the National Geographic quiz. I think I fit the personality of a Velociraptor the best because I enjoy being the leader of a group, while trying to be a calming force and staying humble wherever I go.

Mackenzie is a senior specializing in English and is one of Onward State’s associate editors. She’s from Minersville, PA, and always tries to explain exactly where it is. Send all your compliments to [email protected] or @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.