This character needs to be pathetic on the outside, and relatively perfect on the inside. Honest, kind, and dirt poor.Also gorgeous.
Step 2: Put said character where she can demonstrate how obnoxiously selfless she is.
It helps if she's really hungry, dirty, or extra-poor at the time.
Step 3: Reward her for acting in a way you would never act yourself.
Then pretend like you actually would act that way and give yourself a pat on the back.