A lesson in giving through peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

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by JOHN SHARIFY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @JohnSharify

KING5.com

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 6:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 21 at 7:18 PM

We first met Anthony in City Hall Park in Seattle. It was just before 5 p.m. and he was sitting alone on a bench. He told us he'd been homeless off and on for many years. And he also told us the peanut butter and jelly sandwich he was eating was the first meal he had in 24 hours.

"Peanut butter and jelly sandwich," he said with a smile, as if to say “nothing beats that!”

Fifth graders from St. John's Catholic School in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood had made 100 sandwiches that afternoon. Some of the students were handing out the sandwiches to the hungry homeless in the park. Anthony got two.

But that's just part of the story. The trail of the sandwiches began months ago, the moment a homeless woman named Adrianna walked into Seattle's Pioneer Square clinic and asked Nurse Mary Larson if she would consider painting her portrait like she'd done for hundreds of other homeless over the years.

"When our patients lend their faces to be painted, they're helping make a better world. And we need that right now," said Larson, who sells her portraits not for cash, but rather for things the homeless need -- hats, socks, underwear, and - in the case of Adrianna's beautiful portrait - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Between now and eighth grade, the fifth grade students at St. Johns' will make 3,000 sandwiches in exchange for the portrait. Mary Larson considers the sandwiches they've made so far a down payment for the portrait. So it now hangs on the wall in the school and Adrianna couldn't be happier.

"It makes me feel special. Famous," she said, holding back tears.

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