When a couple was stranded on a highway behind a Baltimore bakery truck during a heavy snowstorm, they reached out to the company in hopes to open the truck so as to help feed the people who were stuck in their cars. Bowled over by their response, the driver, and the bakery, went viral for their act of kindness.
On Jan. 3, a 50-mile stretch of highway Interstate 95 between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, suffered heavy snowfall. Many drivers got stuck overnight with nothing to eat or drink, but relief came when Casey Holihan and her husband, John Noe, who were traveling from Ellicott City to North Carolina, decided to do something.
“This is an incredible thank you to Schmidt Baking Company for your humanity and compassion,” Casey wrote on Facebook. “After almost 21 hours of being stuck on 95 South, sleeping here overnight, not having access to food or water, and all of the nearest towns being out of power, we were tired, frustrated, and hungry.”
Explaining the situation further, Casey wrote that many of the people who were stuck had small children and pets in their cars. Witnessing the situation, the couple contacted Schmidt Baking Company and begged them to open the truck that was stuck with them.
Casey admitted she didn’t think it would work, but less than 20 minutes later, she and John got a personal call from parent company H&S Bakery’s co-owner and senior vice president of transportation, Chuck Paterakis. Casey was instructed to pass the phone to Maryland resident Ron Hill, the truck driver, and Paterakis gave the go-ahead.
“[Hill] opened the back of the truck, and with the help of some people close by, passed out bread to more than 50 cars who were all incredibly thankful,” said Casey, adding, “This was one of the kindest moments I have ever witnessed. Thank you, Schmidt.”
Casey’s post went viral, amassing 50,000 reactions and 29,000 shares, winning the hearts of netizens.
During the snowstorm, temperatures dropped into the teens, Baltimore Magazine reported. Hill, who gave out 500 of the truck’s estimated 8,000 loaves of bread, told the outlet that he had been praying in the back of his truck before the couple came to him.
He was already thinking he should hand out bread and “catch the weight later.”
“From what I can gather, it was very icy, slippery, and they were on somewhat of a hill,” explained Paterakis, who runs H&S with his three brothers. “There were a lot of people who were hungry, but didn’t want to get out of the car or open the door because they had limited gas and didn’t want the heat to escape.
“When I heard from Casey, all of these things were going through my mind, but the main thing was that this is our core value. We’re cultured to help out in situations when things are desperate.”
Casey and John, who, among others, helped Hill distribute the loaves, were touched to find community in the midst of crisis. Casey recalled that, as they were going up to people holding the bread, motorists were touched knowing it was for free.
She said that, just a few hours prior, everyone stuck in the jam seemed frustrated and kept honking.
“But then you remember that these are real people … we got to talk to some of them, and pet their dogs, and ask them about where they were going. It was a little pocket of humanity and community that we created on that stretch of I-95 that won’t be forgotten,” Casey added.
After 27 hours of being stuck in the snow, Casey and John used shovels in their trunk to help clear a pathway to freedom. All vehicles were cleared by the evening of Jan. 4, and no injuries or deaths were reported.