MACON, Ga. — A Central Georgia woman began feeding the homeless out of her own pocket. While she said she has a heart to help everyone she can, she's formed a special bond with one homeless man and wants to get him off the streets.
Nearly every day for the last two weeks, Lakeshia Cleveland-Burney has fed the poor cold meals.
"Today, I made, like, maybe 30, maybe 35," Cleveland-Burney said Friday.
She meets them with her husband and another volunteer in the afternoon near Central City Park, armed with sandwiches, snacks, and drinks including her signature Kool-Aid.
She said she does it because she knows she could easily be in the same situation.
"I know some of them may could do better, some people were saying, 'Oh, they could do this.' But it ain't about that. I don't question them," Cleveland-Burney said. "If they tell me their story, all good. I listen, but I don't question y'all saying, 'Y'all could do better,' or whatever because it could be me, you, any of us."
One homeless man has called out to her in particular -- a Carl Dykes Jr. She affectionately calls him "Mr. Carl."
"I always take him a full plate. Yesterday, he wanted collard greens, so I bought him collard greens," she said.
Cleveland-Burney always makes Dykes a hot meal. On Monday, it was pork chops, collard greens, and squash. She also buys him new clothes and other things to make the 75-year old comfortable while he sleeps in the park.
"If I can't feed anyone else, I'm gonna feed Mr. Carl every day, and his blanket got wet yesterday, so I bought him a new blanket, and I'm going to take it and put it in a bag," Cleveland-Burney said.
Sometimes, people steal the things she brings the old man, but she does it anyway and brings them a few at a time. The pair have formed a special bond in the last few weeks.
"[Lakeshia] treats me so good, and I wasn't thinking about it, and I was thinking about having her for a girlfriend, except she said she was married," Dykes said laughing on Monday.
Dykes said he fell on hard times in Virginia before moving back to Georgia. He said he lived in Tattnall Square Park for six months before moving to Central City Park. Cleveland-Burney's daily meal is often the only thing he'll eat in a day.
"It helps me out plenty, man," Dykes said.
Cleveland-Burney said she wants to help Dykes obtain a new identification and get his Social Security back. She said she's happy to help him and will do what she can to get him off the streets, while still feeding other homeless people in the park. She said it's a part of God's plan for her life.
"I'm able to do it, you know -- they didn't have food to feed them, so God provided for me to do it," Cleveland-Burney said. "So I know he's able to help me do it."
Cleveland-Burney wants to begin serving breakfast and maybe start a non-profit organization with her husband. Those who may want to donate or volunteer now can reach out to her on Facebook at Lakeshia Vaccorette Burney.