BRUNSWICK, Maine — Late Thursday morning, six-year-old Lucas West is having a hard time sitting still on the playground at Dike-Newell Elementary School. He's animated and enthusiastic, like most other young kids—and lately, he's been channeling that energy for a pretty special cause.
Lucas' mother, Nicole Brassard, says earlier this spring, Lucas was watching T.V. when a commercial for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals began to play, featuring cats and dogs in need of homes. Brassard says she looked at Lucas and noticed tears streaming down his face, as he expressed a desire to help these "cute" animals. Brassard's aunt suggested doing a bottle drive, and Lucas jumped at the idea.
"It was very emotional to see him so emotional," Brassard expressed, noting how moving it was to see her son so passionate about a selfless cause.
In mid-March, Brassard reached out to Midcoast Humane in Brunswick to find out what supplies they need and created a Facebook event for Lucas' bottle drive with a goal of raising $100. She says within no time, they had surpassed that goal. As of Sunday, April 25, they're at about $1,475— with a new goal of raising $1,500 by the end of the month.
"It's very rewarding to know that he wanted to do this," Brassard said about Lucas' project. "He's doing everything, it's not me."
The project has been made possible in part by Hilltop Redemption Center in Bath. Brassard connected with owner Merrily Castro, who was more than happy to set up an account for collection under Lucas' name.
"He's got this energy that is just fabulous," Castro said about Lucas.
Castro purchased Hilltop Redemption Center in January of 2020, right before the pandemic began. She has a number of organizations she collects for on a regular basis, saying a life goal of hers was always to own a nonprofit—but she could never decide what she wanted it to be for. This new gig has given her the opportunity to help a variety of causes, including Lucas'.
"That inspiration is kind of the seed that I want to be part of helping grow," Castro said.
Kate Griffith is the communications and marketing manager at Midcoast Humane. She says the past year during the pandemic has been tough trying to adjust to new operations—the shelter has been as busy as ever but has had to move the adoption process online, since it's still closed to the public. Griffith also says the cost of supplies is going up—now, it costs about $20 to care for one animal for one day with staff care, medical expenses, and food. The shelter sees about 3,500 animals every year and some end up staying there for a while, as they wait for the right home.
"We rely on community support, so this is going to be incredibly helpful," Griffith said about Lucas' fundraiser. To her, it's a hopeful sign that animal advocates exist regardless of age.
"The future of animal welfare really lies with the next generation, so to see (kids) jumping into action and making the world a better place for animals in need is really inspiring," Griffith expressed.
If you want to help Lucas' cause, you can donate bottles under his name at Hilltop Redemption Center, or donate to his PayPal account at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brassard says after their last "go around" on April 30, she and Lucas will do some shopping to buy more items like toys, litter, food, paper towels, and cleaning supplies for Midcoast Humane. They're also hoping to make a monetary donation.