corona kindness

School Administrator Creates ‘Essential Workers' Version of Lotería

Each Lotería card includes an illustration and Spanish description of an essential worker.

Alfredo Ponce

Looking for something to do in quarantine? A California school administrator got creative by imagining a new version of the traditional Mexican card game, Lotería.

Dr. Alfredo Ponce, otherwise known on social media as Pholkgiant, used his graphic design skills to create the "Essential Workers" Lotería board game.

"I’ve always wanted to be an artist," Ponce said. "I’m not even the best artist in my family, but I think the grit … in Latino homes…never left me."

Ponce is currently the principal of the Sanger Unified School District’s (SUSD) Community Day School, and working from home during the pandemic. He was inspired to create the board game after looking at the efforts of his wife, a gynecologist in Fresno.

"If you know or work or live with someone who is an essential worker, you begin to see the stress," Ponce said. "To not be able to help them … it's extremely frustrating."

Lotería is a board game that uses a deck of 54 cards, each with a colorful illustration of Spanish words. Ponce created a similar version, using the same design and rules from the traditional game, but replaced the characters on the cards with the names and illustrations of essential workers.

In fact, the first card he created depicted his wife, and after posting it on social media, the response inspired Ponce to create an entire set of cards for the board game.

“If I can do this and bring a smile to my wife, I can do this for other essential workers in the area, in the state… across the world,” Ponce said.

Ponce says that many essential workers, including his wife, works long hours, and that his illustrations of them can give them the recognition they deserve.

Every face that you see tells a story … it's someone's story.

Alfredo Ponce

In the collection, Ponce created cards for nurses, doctors, farm workers, newscasters, firefighters, and other frontline employees.

"Every face that you see tells a story … it's someone's story," Ponce said.

Ponce has spoken to and created cards for doctors in Nepal, India, here in California and other regions across the world. Each card represents an essential worker and depicts their struggles during the pandemic. Ponce hopes that his cards can bring more awareness to the working conditions of essential workers and inspire community support.

"We're all in this together," Ponce said. "At the end, as Americans, as human beings across the world, we become better human beings because of the challenges that we face and the strategies and the things we put together to overcome."

Ponce is currently selling his board game online at for $19.99. A portion of the proceeds will be donated.

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