Friday, December 11, 2020

Insight: The true meaning of the holiday season

By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

As someone who has reported the news for quite a while, I’ll be the first to admit it’s very easy to become jaded with the seemingly never-ending parade of tragic accidents, violent crime, political corruption, destructive storms, missing people, crucial town budget issues, taxes and racial intolerance. So when someone does something kind for someone else, it easy to overlook that sort of gesture in the 24-hour news cycle.

Several years ago, I had the good fortune of meeting a young Maine girl who believes in helping others and expressing her creativity while doing it. Emma Brennan is now 9 and has been making multimedia sculptures from sand, shells, driftwood and pinecones since she was just 5 years old. She sells her colorful creations online and then uses the proceeds to purchase food for animals currently residing in shelters and for other pet rescue organizations. 

Each multimedia sculpture she makes takes more than a week to complete and they are priceless to those who own them or whom she chooses to give them to.

In 2017, Emma made one for Jacob Thompson, the 9-year-old Saco boy who loved penguins and was dying tragically from Neuroblastoma cancer. She also created two more sculptures in 2018 upon learning of the deaths of former First Lady Barbara Bush and President George H.W. Bush and left them for the Bush Family at their Walker’s Point compound in Kennebunkport because she found out how much the couple loved animals.

She works on these animal-themed sculptures at her family’s kitchen table and is involved in every aspect of them, everything from fusing the sand for a sculpture base together with glue, to shopping for and then selecting animal figurines to adorn each piece and hand-painting each sculpture she creates herself. She even goes to the beach to collect the sand she uses for them.

She sells her animal sculptures online at Emma Brennan’s Rock Message on Facebook, and to date she’s sold dozens of them to people in Alaska, California, Nevada, Oregon, Florida, Virginia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Idaho, Arizona, Texas, Arkansas and even to families overseas in England and St. Martin’s. 

This story all started when her grandmother, Judy Chambers, found a painted rock. Emma got an idea to make animal creations but to use her creativity and artistic ability to help stray, lost or suffering animals.

Emma told me she merely wanted to do something nice for any animal who had been hurt and wanted to use the project to show love and kindness to all of God’s creatures.

At first, she’d find a suitable rock, paint it and then leave it in random locations for people to find, She distributed those rocks inscribed with the message, “Love for all animals. Find me, post me, re-hide me.”

That led to more elaborate and themed sculptures as she got older and eventually a successful Facebook page, all done with love on behalf of suffering animals and a truly supportive family.

Once a sculpture has been sold, Emma and her grandmother will go to the store and purchase large bags of dog food and cat food and they then take them to the local shelter to be used by animals there. 

She’s not even out of grade school yet, but Emma remains fully committed to the project. She takes no salary for her work and does this 12 months a year, because as she says, animal suffering doesn’t take a vacation, and somebody has to show them love and that somebody does care about them.   

Whether she knows it or not, even at such a young age this little girl has tapped into the true spirit and meaning of the holiday season. She is doing something unselfishly and without any ulterior motive that is meant to improve the lives of animals in need of help and assistance.

She’s not just talking about doing something of worth for her community, she actually saw a need, stepped up and continues to make a difference without requiring compensation or fanfare. Emma does this out of pure love and a sincere desire to make things better for innocent creatures struggling for survival.

It’s too bad more of us couldn’t take a cue from Emma Brennan and do something similar at Christmas and throughout the year just like she is doing.

Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we did? < 

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