HCCD Brings Christmas Spirit


Ruby Bischoff, Staff Reporter

Heart of the Community Christmas Drive (HCCD) is a nonprofit organization that provides children with Christmas gifts and provides student scholarships. It was founded in 2018 by Sophie Pressly, who was a sophomore at the time at Salida High School. Pressly started HCCD with the goal of helping those in need and encouraging high school volunteerism.

It is a humble program funded through student volunteers, but not in the traditional way. They don’t provide the gifts, nor do they provide the money for the gifts. It is the students job to encourage local businesses, teachers, friends and even family to support HCCD through sponsorships.

Pressly has seen how many people the program helps have a brighter Christmas. As well as creating a happier Christmas, it also supports students with two $500 scholarships every year. One for the student with the most volunteer hours and one for the student who raised the most money. When Pressly graduated in 2021, she invited senior Kira Kuhl to lead the program, confident that Kuhl would bring just as much love and passion for the program as Pressly has.

“The cause is good, and we buy gifts for kids who can’t afford them,” Kuhl said when asked why she joined the program.

Kuhl joined the HCCD back in her freshman year. She says she has benefited from this program in many ways, from developing social skills to improving college applications. She would highly recommend this program to anyone looking to be a good citizen and improve their college applications.

“It definitely gets you out there, also with scholarships and colleges and stuff it definitely makes you look a lot better,” Kuhl said.

Kuhl is inspired by the impact she sees the program having on the community. She loves seeing the joy it brings families.

“We always get to meet the families, so we can tell how happy they are that we are giving them gifts,” she said.

This year is the fourth year of HCCD and this year it is a little different. Over the past three years, students have accumulated 383 volunteer hours and raised over $15,000 to provide presents for 411 children in Salida.

While it is mostly funded through sponsorships, volunteers are vital to getting said sponsorships. Recently, HCCD volunteer numbers have unfortunately been declining. Salida High School student council has been running a similar program for the last year, which attracts a lot of potential volunteers away from HCCD. Kuhl has expressed concerns for the program’s future.

“I have a feeling it’s going to slowly fade away,” she said.

While Kuhl fears her version of the Christmas drive will die out, she feels that the spirit will live on. As she graduates, she will pass it on to another student in hopes of keeping the program alive. Even if HCCD dissipates, she hopes that the student council will continue to host a Christmas drive to help children in need in the community. As long as students want to help the community, the soul of HCCD will stay alive and continue to invigorate the Christmas spirit in Salida.