Lucas West, 6, of Woolwich started raising money for a local animal shelter after seeing a heart-wrenching commercial from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals, but he never expected to inspire the national organization to do the same.

West launched a bottle drive to raise money for Midcoast Humane, a Brunswick-based animal shelter, after he stumbled across a commercial for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals showing dogs and cats in need of a home.

Nicole Brassard, West’s mother, said she noticed “tears streaming down his face” during the commercial and declared he wanted to help the animals.

The family launched the bottle drive and quickly reached their initial goal of raising $100, but didn’t stop there. Through the help of family, friends, and complete strangers, West finished the campaign with $2,939.

Lucas West, 6, brought two cars filled with supplies to Midcoast Humane last week. He raised nearly $3,000 for the animal shelter with a bottle drive. Photo courtesy of Nicole Brassard

The family used a portion of the money to purchase supplies for the shelter, such as wet and dry dog and cat food, hay and shavings for rabbits and guinea pigs, cat litter, bleach, cleaner, and laundry detergent. West said he was most excited to pick out toys for the animals. By the end of his shopping spree, West had hand-picked $67 worth of tennis balls, rope toys, and squeaky toys.

“We had no idea exactly how many supplies he would be bringing, but we were floored when they arrived with two SUVs filled with supplies,” said Midcoast Humane Spokesperson Kate Griffith.


The family donated the remainder of the funds raised — about $1,980 — to Midcoast Humane in cash.

When West arrived at the animal shelter to drop off his donation, there was a surprise waiting for him — a letter from the very organization that called West to action. In the letter, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals President and CEO Matt Bershadker commended West for his philanthropy.

“The ASPCA has been rescuing, protecting, and caring for vulnerable animals for more than 150 years, but we know that every effort — no matter how small — makes a difference in the lives of dogs, cats, horses and other animals who need and deserve that help,” Bershadker wrote in the letter. “On behalf of the ASPCA and all the animals benefitting from your work, thank you for doing your part and inspiring so many people with your compassion — including us!”

Inspired by West’s efforts, Bershadker wrote that the national organization donated $8,000 to Midcoast Humane in West’s name to bring the total donation to $10,000.

Bershadker said local news stories about West’s fundraising mission caught his eye “so we jumped at the opportunity to support him.”

Lucas West, 6, of Woolwich turned his love for animals, especially his dog, Ava, into action. He raised $2,000 for Midcoast Humane with a bottle drive. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

“It’s important for young people to see how much of a difference they can make for vulnerable animals, and Lucas is a great example of that,” Bershadker told The Times Record. “No one is too young to learn compassion and act on it, and compassionate kids become compassionate adults, so we’re thrilled to help Lucas be a model for others, as well as to support Midcoast Humane’s efforts to help animals in need throughout Maine.”


Brassard said she and West were “shocked and speechless” when they read the letter.

“For a 6-year-old, $10,000 is a lot of money and it will help so many animals,” said Brassard.

As of Wednesday, Midcoast Humane was caring for 162 animals, spread across its Brunswick and Edgecomb campuses and foster homes.

The combined $10,000 in donations could fund vaccines for 1,000 dogs or 2,000 cats, cover 400 spay procedures for cats, or 200 neuter procedures for dogs, said Griffith.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the ASPCA,” said Griffith. “They don’t give out money to just anyone, so this donation from them is exceptional. It’s nice to know that they take note of things that are happening around the country, especially in smaller shelters in places like Maine, and it’s impactful for kids to be recognized in that way.”

Griffith said the nonprofit frequently sees children donate to help animals in the shelter. In 2020, children alone donated roughly $2,800 in total to the nonprofit.

Griffith said West’s bottle drive are a prime example that “small efforts can have a really big effect.”

“I’m blown away by the support he got from the community and the outpour of love he has received,” said Brassard. “I can see he’s walking a little taller and is more self-confident. As a mother, all you can ask for is that he feels that sense of accomplishment in himself.”

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