- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2015

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Luke Brust says 13-year-old kids like him can make a difference in this world.

“It should not stop you by being a kid,” he said. “We can do as many things as adults do.”

Luke certainly has not let his age deter him from doing good. He continually volunteers his time and talents to a variety of causes.

“I live my life off the Boy Scout law - thrifty, clean, reverent, trustworthy, helpful, loyal and kind,” he said.

The home-schooled eighth-grader has been a Boy Scout since he was 6. He’s currently ranked a Tenderfoot and is a member of Pack 1323 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

In 2013, Luke was the district’s No. 1 seller of Boy Scout popcorn, moving more than $3,000 worth. That’s a lot of cans of popcorn - which are priced from $10 to $30.

“It was pretty hard,” Luke said. “But it wasn’t incredibly hard. I do have a good spiel.”

Seventy percent of the popcorn sales went to the Pine Burr Area Council, which uses the money to help various charities. To reward his salesmanship, the council gave Luke a bicycle, which he promptly donated to Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.

Luke didn’t even need much time to think about possibly keeping the bike. His mother remembers the lunch when Luke found out a bike was coming his way.

“He got a call from Quincy at the Boy Scout office,” Stacy Brust remembered. “(He said) Luke was the top seller and he won a bike, and Luke said immediately, ‘Let’s give it to the Angel Tree.’

“I started crying right in the middle of Sweet Peppers. Everybody loves their children, but when they start doing something truly generous - it touches your heart.”

Quincy DeJarnett, Scout Reach director, was also impressed.

“It was huge,” he said. “He gave a nice bicycle away to a child from Angel Tree who probably wouldn’t have had a nice Christmas.”

DeJarnett said Luke also is the den chief for the local Cub Scout pack.

“He goes back into the Cub Scout program and helps out with the scouts,” he said.

Luke said he loves Boy Scouts and is inspired by other Scouts he sees. He even visits schools to talk to other boys about his troop. He then looks out for the new Scouts at the next meeting so he can welcome them.

As part of his scouting activities, Luke has given PowerPoint presentations to his troop on such things as ancient Egypt and astrophysics.

His interest in all things scholarly has earned him the nickname “Lukepedia.” He even made final callbacks for Kids Week on “Jeopardy” and probably would have made the show, except programming was delayed and Luke got too old.

Luke is also a competitive archer. He has won first place the past two years in the Southern Mississippi 4-H tournament for recurve bare-bow. He teaches archery skills to his younger sister as well as others in his Boy Scout troop.

After the 2013 tornado hit Hattiesburg, Luke and his father assisted in cleaning up debris at the Girl Scout and Red Cross offices and a local church.

Luke’s dad, Greg Brust, was his Cub master for many years and now is his Scout master. He said during the cleanup, Luke got inspired.

“When we were cleaning up around the old Girl Scout office, Luke found a single Lego brick,” Greg Brust said. “He likes Legos and he knew someone had lost that, so that’s the reason he organized a toy drive with our Scout group for kids who had lost items in the tornado.”

Luke led the toy collection drive to create Easter baskets for children who lost their toys in the tornado. He downplays his involvement in all this.

“I picked up some wreckage, and I helped clean,” he said. “I helped repair some of the houses in the area. It was quite a long process, but I did feel good about it. It did start to lightning, and we had to leave. I felt soggy from the rain.”

Greg Brust doesn’t know from where Luke gets his helping spirit.

“We encourage him to do more, but he doesn’t really need the encouragement,” he said. “He’s always been very interested in helping people.”

Stacy Brust said Luke had a helping nature from the very start.

“Even when he was a tiny baby, he would take the dishes to the sink,” she said. “I have pictures of him in his diapers trying to do the dishes.”

Family friend Heidi Blanchard also remembers Luke’s helping ways.

“I have children that are younger than Luke, and they very much look up to him,” she said. “Luke is one of the most thoughtful, selfless children that I know.

“He always puts everyone else before himself. He has always been that way.”

For Luke, helping others is simply his way of life.

“I like the fact that I can help people wherever I want to,” he said. “It makes me feel thoroughly happy and satisfied knowing I made someone else happy.”

___

Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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