JESUP, Ga. (WTOC) - The holiday season is a time for giving, and sometimes that simple act can change more than one life. A woman in Wayne County is especially grateful for one family’s generosity.
“I’m not no one special. I’m just an ordinary person doing what I got to do to survive," said Kathie McAlister.
Take a walk in Kathie McAlister’s shoes, and you’ll quickly learn about determination.
“You have to work for what you want," she said. "Ain’t nothin’ a handout in life.”
McAlister has worked at the McDonald’s in Jesup for the past year and a half.
“For the first six months, my boyfriend used to take me back and forth to work, but he had passed away," McAlister said.
During a time when some would fall down, McAlister knew she had to get on her feet.
“Nobody really wants to walk all that way, but you know, I’ve got to do what it takes in order to keep a roof over my head," said McAlister.
What used to be a 15-minute drive turned into a three-hour walk.
“I go over the new overpass, down by the Peaches and the little gas station and everything,” McAlister recalled.
Five days a week, she would walk to and from work, including on busy streets and highways, and sometimes in the dark.
“It was very scary," McAlister said.
One day, after a long and tiring shift, Shawn Oliver was driving along Pine Street, off US-301.
“Ms. Kathie was on the right side over here walking," said Oliver, pointing to the side of the road.
“I rode past her and I knew I was supposed to turn around and stop," she said.
That stop on the side of the road changed Oliver’s life.
“Being able to do for others is something I’m beyond grateful for," she said.
Shawn, her sister April and April’s son Hayden spent the past six months taking turns and driving McAlister to and from work.
McAlister recalled the day Oliver told her she wouldn’t have to walk to work again: “I didn’t know what to think.”
A ride with complete strangers quickly turned to friends.
“I just talked to her like I did my friends," said April. "What’s going on today? How was work? Were you busy? You know, that kind of thing.”
“She was offering to me to come over and have fires and stuff at her house and just hang out," said Smith.
Even after the rides, helping Kathie with bills and other expenses, Oliver’s big heart wanted to give a little more.
In a video posted on Facebook by April, McAlister’s coworkers walk her to the McDonald’s parking lot. Oliver is seen standing next to a car with a big bow on top.
“You see that bow on the car. I bought this for somebody today,” Oliver tells McAlister.
Her jaw drops, and yells of excitement could be heard.
“Go get your blessing,” yelled a coworker.
What a blessing it was.
McAlister recalled that moment: “I’m like ‘Somebody pinch me. Is this real? Is this really happening?’”
It was a reaction you wouldn’t trade for the world.
“I felt tears streaming down my own face, and it was of happiness, thankfulness, and gratitude," said Oliver.
Take a walk in Kathie McAlister’s shoes, and you’ll quickly learn:
“It’s always great just to be selfless," said Smith.
“There’s always someone in a worse situation than you," said April.
“The greatest thing we can do is love," said Oliver.
To love is to give.
With a smile on her face, McAlister thanked her friends: “You guys are truly a blessing to me, and I will never ever forget it.”