Sandwiches with Love

Written by Amy Dee Stephens in the August 2020 Issue

Sandwiches of Love

This story is about sandwiches, but it starts with socks.

Last fall, Jessica Anne Laster’s son had outgrown his socks. During a cold snap, she decided to visit downtown Oklahoma City to pass them along to the homeless. “And the need was mind blowing,” Jessica said. “There were so many people living outside with snow on the ground, frozen water, and no food. I ran to the store for sandwich materials to pass out, and so many people appeared out of nowhere. It was unbelievable. I knew I needed to do something.”

Her next step was to reach out through social media for donations and helpers. Now, Jessica visits downtown at least once a week delivering sandwiches to 50-75 people, plus a variety of other donated items.

An Increased Need

“The hardest part is sending people away empty-handed once we run out of sandwiches,” Jessica said. “I’ve seen an increase
in homelessness since the pandemic started, and some literally only have the clothes on their backs.”

Jessica’s heart goes out to the homeless because she, herself, was once homeless. Her uncle used to make food packages for her. “I model what I do after my uncle, because he made me feel loved during a difficult time in my life. So now, I feel called to give back--but I know that what I do is not for everybody.” 

For safety, Jessica doesn’t deliver sandwiches by herself, but has never felt in danger. “My experience with the homeless community is that these people are gentle, appreciative and thankful. I get prayed for all the time. Surprisingly, most homeless people do not hoard whatever they can get--they take just what they need.”

Last winter, Jessica witnessed the selflessness of two homeless men when she was downtown delivering donated blankets from a hotel. “It was raining ice, and I was down to one blanket left. Two gentlemen asked for a blanket, but neither would take the last one from the other. I was standing there freezing, saying, ‘One of you take the blanket!’ I finally gave it to one man, and he turned around and gave it to the other. This story is the norm, not the exception.”

Removing Barriers

Because Jessica’s charitable work is gaining traction, she is considering developing a non-profit. She was recently donated an office space to carry out her work, which she calls Sandwiches With Love. She was inspired by the name of a tea she drinks called Detox With Love. “It just felt right, because I do make these sandwiches with love—just like my uncle did for me.”

“Homeless people spend energy every day figuring out how to eat, get clean and where to stay. By taking away some of these problems, they can put more energy into getting out of their situation,” Jessica said. “I believe that by sharing some hope with these people that they can have a different life, it’s possible for them to come out of this.” What started with socks, ended in Sandwiches--with love.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/sandwicheswithlove 

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