Charitable giving pays off: Your donations at work in the Coastal Empire

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — During the holiday season, some people are skeptical about giving to local organizations, concerned the money will never reach the people it’s meant to help.

In this What’s Working report, News 3’s Courtney Cole spoke to one woman who says she’s proof that your donations are making a difference.


Everyday, Keya Jest drives tourists around The Hostess City on Old Town Trolley Tours.

“I never thought I would be doing a job like this.”

But several local organizations stepped in to make sure Jest wouldn’t get stuck in reverse, allowing her to leave her past in the rear view…with a shot at a second chance.

“I was in a dark place. I was battling a drug addiction, I was battling alcohol addiction, I was living on the streets homeless,” Jest told News 3.

But when she decided to get clean, she knew she needed some help.

The Salvation Army was the first group to put those wheels in motion.

“That was humble beginnings. That’s when they gave me my first clothes, outfits, couple of outfits,” said Jest.

The road to rehabilitation didn’t stop there.

“From Salvation Army it was Social Apostolate that helped me get my I.D., my birth certificate—and from Social Apostolate, then it was the Chatham Apprentice Program (offered by Step Up Savannah), then it was (Georgia) legal services, and it’s so many—I can’t name them all. But it was a lot of agencies that helped me along the way.”

Agencies supported by the United Way of the Coastal Empire.

“They gave me a sense of empowerment, that I could stand, that I could be somebody and I could do this.”

That’s why Jest says it’s so important to give back.

“It’s people that’s out there, that’s thinking the same way I thought and said look, ‘I need to get home and start all over, it’s the holidays—I need to do something different’ and by helping United Way, you’re helping those people come back home and get their lives back.”

Click here to learn more about how you can choose the right path for your donations.

Click here to learn more about United Way of the Coastal Empire.

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