CHARITABLE MATCHING Each year Dan and Kristen Brughelli’s daughter Mia donates a portion of her Christmas money to a good cause. Photo: Submitted

Few kids think of much beyond toys during the holiday season. They create lists, dog-ear the pages of toy catalogs or draw circles around their favorite playthings in catalogs and store ads.

They covet the latest gadgets, the newest gaming consoles and the limited edition dolls.

In the midst of these ambitions, though, the spirit of the holiday season may become lost from what it’s truly meant to be: the season for giving.

So when a young girl says she wants to give some of her Christmas money to a local charity—it’s the kind of gesture that doesn’t go unnoticed. It inspires one to take action.

And that’s exactly what Hollister resident Dan Brughelli did when his daughter, Mia, wanted to give a portion of her Christmas money to charity three years ago. It has since become an annual tradition for the now 10-year old who chose to donate to breast cancer research last year.

When Mia decided to support the Hollister Animal Shelter this year, Dan and his wife, Kristen, agreed it was a great choice and looked into the shelter to learn its greatest need.

Dan brought the idea to his friend, Hollister Police Chief David Westrick.

“Chief said, ‘Well, they always need food but they also take donations for low cost spay/neuter procedure for people who can’t afford it, as well as money to buy microchips,” Brughelli recalls.

And then Westrick challenged Brughelli to do even more: he suggested that Brughelli’s business, Brughelli Electric, also make a contribution and challenge all the businesses in San Benito County to match or exceed the donations.

“I suggested that they do what I try to do, and that’s to motivate folks to help the community become a better place,” Westrick says.

A sentiment close to the Brughellis’ heart.

Westrick put Brughelli in touch with the shelter’s supervisor, Kara Newman, to set up the Donation Challenge.

After contacting Newman, Brughelli learned the shelter mainly feeds its animals with food from Rancher’s Feed, located in Hollister. After a trip to Rancher’s Feed and a supplemental one to Target, the Brughellis arrived at the Hollister Animal Shelter with 494 lbs of dry food and 180 cans of wet food.

And their donation didn’t stop there.

They learned that low cost spay/neuter procedures run between $60 and $100, and a box of 15 microchips cost $250.

“We decided $1000 was a good round number for these procedures,” Brughelli says.

And now, with Westrick’s help, Brughelli is challenging other businesses to match or exceed his donations to the Hollister Animal Shelter.

“We launched a Facebook campaign/challenge and pushed it through as many local pages we could think of,” Brughelli says.

“We also tagged friends of ours who own local businesses. Everyone loves a good challenge and the opportunity to ‘one-up’ their friends.”

Brughelli says that Christi Turner, owner of Cold Storage CrossFit in Hollister, was the first local business to accept the challenge.

“Challenge accepted,” Turner commented on the Brughelli Electric Facebook page.

“We are collecting donation items for the animal shelter at the gym this holiday season,” she added.

The GardenMart also proposed a collaboration with Brughelli Electric – a “Stuff the Dog House” event. Brughelli explains this event, which is still in the works, as one where people can stuff a large makeshift dog house with food and supplies for the animals.

“This is a winning situation for the animals,” he says.

“They benefit from our competitive nature. It’s making progress with many people accepting the challenge as private citizens and donating what they can. Every little bit helps.”

Brughelli Electric and the Brughelli family plan on continuing this donation challenge as a yearly tradition.

“We have been blessed in having a successful business and enjoy giving back to our community,” Brughelli says.


The Hollister Animal Shelter is located at 1331 South Street and can be contacted at 831.636.4320. Take up Brughelli Electric’s Donation Challenge on their Facebook page, Brughelli Electric Inc. Dan Brughelli can be reached at 408.449.9444 or at [email protected].

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