“It Was An Easy Decision.” How 1 Desperate Call Fed Dozens Stranded On Icy Highway.

Schmidt Baking Co helps motorists

A few days into the New Year, Casey and John Holihan were heading to Virginia to say goodbye to family before John deploys to Germany with the Air Force.

The couple left their home in Ellicott City, Maryland, on Interstate 95 near Quantico when a sudden winter storm hit. Traffic came to a full stop due to glare ice on the roadways, stranding thousands of motorists in their cars. Casey and John hoped they’d be back on their way in a few hours, but the weather kept them stuck in place for more than 16 hours.

“We went to bed that night in the car because we just couldn’t go anywhere, we were exhausted from driving all day and being so stressed,” Casey recalled.

As dawn arrived the next morning, Casey could hear children crying from other people’s cars around her. She noticed others with older passengers, pets, and small kids who had gone without food and even water for hours on end. Their own stomachs were growling, too — John and Casey hadn’t eaten a thing in nearly 37 hours! As they looked around at the stopped cars, they saw a Schmidt Baking Company truck. Desperately, Casey took a shot in the dark and dialed the company’s customer service line.

She begged the representative to give out whatever bread they had on the truck, not just to them, but to everyone around them. “I didn’t think it would actually work,” Casey said.

But it did.

Twenty minutes later, Casey received a call back. Chuck Paterakis and his three brothers own the Schmidt Baking Company, which their parents started in Baltimore, Maryland, 80 years ago. He told Casey he’d instructed the truck driver, Ron Hill, to open up and distribute two products to any person who wanted them.

“It was an easy decision,” said Chuck, who added that if he was in their shoes, “I would want someone to offer their products.”

Casey, John, and Ron began carrying loaves of bread and dinner rolls to the hungry motorists. Others started helping out, carefully tiptoeing across the icy roads and helping as many as they could reach. Everyone was beyond grateful to have something to put in their bellies after such a terrible ordeal.

“Some people said this was a saving grace for them,” Casey said. She was blown away by Chuck’s generosity in their hour of need, praising him for putting people before profit when it mattered most. “He didn’t have to help us. He could have made a profit off that bread,” she added. “It was really heartwarming.”

Chuck said his company has a long history of helping others. In fact, they’ve donated more than 3 million loaves of bread in the Baltimore-Washington area since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My father and mother taught us how to work hard and give back to the community,” he continued. “My parents would be very proud.”

Once traffic started to move again, Casey reflected on the horrific road trip and realized that the bread, and the community she felt while talking with the other motorists, had been a true bright spot.

It was 33 hours before John and Casey were able to complete their journey, and they were so grateful for the help along the way. We should all strive for this mindset when we see others in need!

Share this story to thank Chuck and the Schmidt Baking Company for feeding strangers during a scary ordeal.

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