Feeling famished after not having eaten for more than 30 hours while stranded in an icy traffic jam in Virginia, a Maryland couple figured they would try a longshot to see if they could get some much-needed food.
Casey Holihan and her husband, John Noe, saw a bread truck from Schmidt Baking Company stuck just ahead of them on I-95 on Tuesday. They called the company's customer service line and left a message asking if it was possible for the driver to open the truck and give some loaves of bread to them and others.
Holihan was then surprised to receive a phone call 20 minutes later from the owner of Baltimore-based H&S Bakery, which owns Schmidt Baking Company. Chuck Paterakis told her he was instructing the truck's driver, Ron Hill, to open up the back and pass out some food.
"We just kept giving it out until we couldn’t walk anymore because it was so freezing,” Holihan told NBC affiliate WBAL. "It felt incredible just hearing people say thank you and hearing people just so relieved to finally have food in their car, food in their system and in their kids’ system. It was a really incredible feeling."
The couple told the Washington Post they helped pass out about 300 packages of rolls and loaves of bread to people in surrounding vehicles over the course of an hour.
"I’m so pleased that the people who were hungry, that hadn’t eaten for the past 24 hours, had a chance, even if it was bread, had the chance to fill their stomachs up. It was very gratifying to me. It was something I will always remember,” Paterakis told WBAL.
The couple had not moved for more than 20 hours in the southbound lane of I-95 thanks to a combination of jack-knifed tractor trailers, heavy snowfall and four inches of ice that hindered rescue vehicles from clearing the road. They had spent the night in their car in temperatures that had dipped into the 20s.
"It was definitely a very scary situation and we had no idea how long we would be there for,” Noe told WBAL.
Holihan thanked Schmidt Baking Company for their act of kindness in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
"This was one of the kindest moments I have ever witnessed," Holihan wrote.
The two were traveling from Ellicott City, Maryland, to visit family in Newport, North Carolina, for a five-hour journey that became a 36-hour nightmare. They are saying goodbye to family before Noe is stationed with the U.S. Air Force in Germany, according to WBAL.
The unexpected gift from Schmidt Baking Company helped make the journey a little less painful.
“This company is incredible," Holihan told WBAL. "The company definitely could have made a profit off the bread but instead chose to help the people around them. That is just so incredible that someone chose humanity over profit, especially in a situation that people were so desperate.”