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Urban Mission Ministries’ Keys to Freedom program seeks donations, partnerships

PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS — Kelly Jeffers, director of new initiatives at Urban Mission Ministries, takes a selfie of herself earlier this year with Bill Delelles and son Ryan after they donated a car to the mission’s Keys to Freedom program. For information on the KTF, contact Jeffers at (740) 282-8010. -- Contributed

STEUBENVILLE — Keys to Freedom is an Urban Mission Ministries undertaking that Kelly Jeffers identifies with and continues to develop.

The mission’s director of new initiatives said KTF is a car donation program designed to help working families in need and has been created by Urban Mission Ministries to serve the local community.

Since the program’s inception in April 2020, there have been three successful car donations — cause to celebrate but also to forge ahead, she noted.

“I wrote this program because at one time, I was a low-income single mother working two jobs,” Jeffers noted. “I had an old car that was unreliable and kept breaking down. I qualified for the car donation program through the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services. It changed my life. They gave me a 1999 Toyota Camry that was a solid running car.”

What the mission learned from working with families in need is that transportation is a one of the top issues they struggle with, motivation for the KTF development.

“Donating an unused vehicle is one of the greatest gifts a person will ever give,” Jeffers said. “Car donation is changing lives across the county, and now local families can get in on the action of the movement of giving a car. This is an enormous blessing to a person in need,” she added.

Anyone with an unused vehicle in his or her possession can make a tax-deductible gift of the car to the KTF program, according to Jeffers. “We transfer the title and fill out the necessary paperwork. Our office manager is a notary, and she is on site for added convenience. We provide the tax-deductible slip for the upcoming tax period, and the whole thing is usually wrapped up in about 20 minutes,” she added.

“Currently we have had two local garages partner with us to get the cars up to speed,” Jeffers said. “TEAM Chevrolet in Wintersville and Laney Tire and Auto in Steubenville both partnered with us, and they each fixed a car as a donation to the Urban Mission,” she said. “We are open to new partnerships with local garages as well. We believe that these partnerships strengthen our community, growing community bonds and also help a family in need achieve economic freedom.”

Jeffers explained the process of how a car recipient is chosen.

“An individual applies for the program by completing the application on line or in person,” she began. “The eligibility requirements are they must have a valid driver’s license, have insurance or be insurable, and must be working at least 20 hours a week with pay stubs to verify employment. We also take some other demographic information such as how long they have been at their current address, their family size and how long they have worked at their current job.”

The application also includes the question — How would your life be changed by having a car?

“This is where we find out more about why the person is applying for this program and what they have been struggling with,” Jeffers noted. “Our typical family is one to two working parents who have several children, but we also have single people, men and women, both young and old,” she said.

“Every family who participates in the program attends a driver safety course and vehicle responsibility briefing, facilitated by the Urban Mission,” Jeffers explained. “We want people to understand the ongoing responsibility of vehicle ownership and the financial obligations that will arise from ownership as well.”

For the program to thrive, car donations obviously are a necessity, according to Jeffers.

“We need cars,” she said. “When we did our soft launch of the program, we had multiple cars donated, and they went out quickly to approved families. It was a complete success, and we would like to continue this success and life-changing program. The movement of car donation is one where everyone wins, including our local economy. Every working family helps to build up our economy, and it gives that family the opportunity to move into better paying positions with a full-time schedule,” she explained.

Monetary donations also are welcome, she added. “We pay for title transactions, potential car repairs, car parts and even gas cards,” Jeffers said.

For information, contact Jeffers at (740) 282-8010.

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