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Giving a helping hand

Asked how many sandwiches she and her Riverview Elementary School classmates made Tuesday afternoon, Abby Rustad gave a slight eyeroll, a little sigh and simply said, "A lot."

She wasn't kidding, either. In little less than half an hour, the fourth graders at Riverview Elementary put together about 800 sandwiches. That, by anyone's count, qualifies as a lot.

Thing is, those sandwiches were likely to be all gone by Tuesday night. The RVES students made sandwiches as part of a service project called 363.

Run by former teacher Allen Law, 363 is a program designed to feed Minneapolis homeless.

Law contends that people remember the homeless on Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, he asks on the web site, "what happens the other 363 days of the year?"

The mission of 363 is to feed at least 150 homeless people in Minneapolis as often as possible.

But that often means his group needs help. That's where the Riverview Elementary students come in.

Since Riverview is a new school, they don't have any annual projects established yet, teacher Jenny Yorks said. The fourth grade teachers wanted to have students do a service project, so they asked around. Someone suggested 363, so the teaching staff got in touch with Law.

Not so long ago, KARE 11 did a story about 363. When teachers shared that clip with students, "they were really moved and excited about donating their time to people who are less fortunate," Yorks said.

All of the materials used to make the sandwiches -- from the bread and meat to the plastic gloves and caps worn during food preparation -- were donated by the students and their parents.

Come Tuesday afternoon, the students were ready to get to work. Yorks said she was surprised at how little time it took to actually generate so many sandwiches -- they had 84 loaves of bread, and figured each loaf would make about 10 sandwiches. Given that, teachers thought the project would take at least an hour.

"It went a lot faster than we thought it would," Yorks said. "The kids were so driven. We've been talking about this day all month."

Law was on his way to RVES later that afternoon. He was going to talk to the kids about 363 and how those students had just helped so many people.

Then, he was going to collect the sandwiches and bottled water -- the water was also donated by RVES families -- and likely head out to the streets of Minneapolis with them that evening.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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