by Moira Cullings
BONNER SPRINGS — Carol Coyle’s hometown here holds a special place in her heart.
So much so that she has been feeding the hungry on her native soil every week for nearly four years.
“I don’t have any children, but I know a lot of people who do,” said Coyle, a parishioner of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Shawnee.
“I have seen children who would not have food [without help],” she said. “And I’m blessed that that’s not the case for me.”
To help the hungry in her hometown, Coyle volunteers for Feed His Lambs, a multi-denominational program created in 2011 as a way to serve the Bonner Springs and Edwardsville communities.
It is now comprised of a group of about 25-30 volunteers who purchase, prepare and serve meals to families of children in the Bonner Springs/Edwardsville school district.
Volunteers ask school counselors in the district if there are families of students who might not have enough food for the weekend.
They then buy and prepare what’s needed to serve those in need.
“We serve these meals on Friday evenings, and we have enough for the families that we hope it will last at least for the weekend,” said Coyle.
It is designed to help the families who are already receiving assistance stretch a little further.
“Although the kids will get food during school,” she explained, “there isn’t always enough food over the weekend.”
Coyle, who was born and raised in Bonner, is grateful for the ability to give back to her hometown in a tangible way.
“I just want to help my community,” she said.
Coyle began volunteering for Feed His Lambs in 2013 after talking to her hairdresser Patti Ward, who founded the program, about its work.
After retiring from AT&T where she worked as a computer programmer for more than 33 years, Coyle started to dedicate more time to the program.
She now spends five to six hours each week volunteering.
“I’m not a cook by any means,” said Coyle, “so I do the odds and ends of things that need to be done.”
Coyle goes to Restaurant Depot in Kansas City, Missouri, with about seven of the other volunteers each Thursday. She then goes to Bonner Springs United Methodist Church Friday mornings, where the cooking and preparation takes place.
Coyle returns to the church each Friday evening to help serve the meals — one of her favorite parts of the ministry.
“Especially when the kids come in and find out it’s cookie night, they get so excited,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know some of the families, too.”
Volunteering is nothing new for Coyle.
At AT&T she was part of the company’s community involvement council, which did volunteer work across the city.
She is also in charge of the “beep” Easter egg hunt that takes place each year for students at schools for the blind in Kansas and Missouri.
“I’ve pretty much volunteered my whole life,” she said.
But this program is special.
With its multi-denominational group of volunteers, Coyle is able to work with people from a variety of religious backgrounds.
“Before everyone leaves every Friday morning,” she said, “we have a small prayer service.
“We pray for any needs that we know people [have], and we thank God for having us be able to do this ministry for our community.”
“It’s multi-denominational,” she added, “but everyone is there to thank God that we can help our community.”
For Coyle, helping those in need is a necessary part of life.
“I’m very blessed,” she said. “I’ve had a wonderful life and job, and I just like to help people out.
“If there’s something I can help someone with, I love to do that.”