By Becky Sindelar, staff writer
Lance Williams, a freshman at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, was a “man for others” even before he arrived at Brebeuf this past fall.
As an eighth grader at St. Monica School, Lance was assigned a project to identify something he was passionate about. “I’ve always wanted to help people and make them happy, so I researched ways that I could do that,” he says.
During his research, he found out that many senior citizens live on fixed incomes, and some can barely afford normal household items after they take care of bills each month. So, he decided to establish Lance’s Gift, an organization focused on helping the elderly and homeless in Indiana. With the help of volunteers and donors, Lance and his mother, Carolyn Mosby, raise funds to provide items for the elderly during the holiday season.
In 2017, Lance’s Gift raised almost $3,000 and bought gifts for the elderly living at the Carolyn Mosby Senior High Rise, named after Lance’s late grandmother. This past Christmas, he expanded the program, raising about $3,700 and purchasing gifts for 400 people. In December, Lance hosted a party at the Nora Commons Senior Community, where Lance’s late grandmother, Ruby Smith, was a resident. He also sent gifts to residents at the Carolyn Mosby Senior High Rise, where he hosted last year’s party.
The seniors received presents that included blankets, scarves, food items, journals, word search books, pens, calendars, hats, and gloves.
“Our view of service always has a focus on opportunities to engage in relationships with those we are serving,” says Nick Klingler, director of community service at Brebeuf. “Lance’s program is so great because the gifts he delivers to the elderly are an entryway into lifting up their dignity and getting to know them. Lance’s own growth through his work on the project is a wonderful example of how our mission statement is lived out by our students ‘cultivating their God given talents as a responsibility and as an act of worship."
Lance brings joy to the seniors he serves through his program, but he receives it as well. “The thing that brings me the most joy is how the seniors seem so happy that I am buying gifts for them. Many of them thank me and give me hugs,” Lance says.
The larger Brebeuf school community also became involved in Lance’s Gift. Lance is part of Ignatian Scholars—a leadership, service, and academic program at Brebeuf—and his fellow Scholars helped him wrap the presents.
“It’s humbling to meet a freshman like Lance who arrived at Brebeuf with a passion for helping others,” says Klingler. “Through his work with Lance’s Gift, he’s proven to be not only a leader within his freshman class, but for everyone in our community.”
Lance plans to continue Lance’s Gift in 2019, with the hopes of establishing it as a 501(c)(3) charity and increasing the amount of donations.
He says the motto of Brebeuf to be men and women for others inspires him.