Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Bakery Gifts Hundreds of Loaves of Bread to Drivers Stuck on I-95 During Snowstorm

Published: April 27, 2022
Casey Holihan and her husband, John Noe, while traveling from Ellicott City, Maryland, to North Carolina (Image: Casey Holihan Noe)
Casey Holihan and her husband, John Noe, while traveling from Ellicott City, Maryland, to North Carolina (Image: Casey Holihan Noe)

Being stranded on a highway for more than 24 hours in below-freezing temperatures is a nightmare scenario. Yet, that’s precisely what hundreds of people on I-95 in Virginia experienced after an icy snowstorm caused a lengthy traffic jam, leaving everyone stuck in their cars. However, amid all this chaos, something extraordinary happened, and it left a lasting impression.

On Jan. 3, a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 between Washington and Richmond, Virginia, suffered heavy snowfall. The poor driving conditions made it a struggle for rescue crews to help the many drivers who were stuck overnight with no food or other necessities — but a Maryland couple had a sudden inspiration.

Casey Holihan and her husband, John Noe, traveling from Ellicott City, Maryland, to North Carolina, realized they had to do something besides staying put in their car. Ahead of them was a  Schmidt Baking Company bread truck, also stuck. 

“We were starving,” Casey says. “People around us were very much struggling as well. We could hear kids crying.”

The couple knew what to do. Obtaining the contact number of Schmidt Baking Company from the back of the truck, they called and begged them to open the truck and pass out the bread to all the hungry passengers around them. 

The couple wasn’t very optimistic about getting a response. However, 20 minutes later, they received a surprise phone call from the parent company H&S Bakery’s co-owner and Senior Vice President of Transportation, Chuck Paterakis. He told Casey that he was instructing the truck’s driver Ron Hill to open up and pass out loaves of bread from his cargo. 

(Courtesy of Casey Holihan Noe)

“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,” Casey said. “This was one of the kindest moments I have ever witnessed. Thank you, Schmidt.”

(Courtesy of Casey Holihan Noe)

Baltimore Magazine reported that during the snowstorm, the temperature dropped really low. However, that didn’t stop the couple and the truck driver, Hill. They continued to keep giving out bread until they couldn’t walk anymore. Casey admitted it was a “really incredible feeling” when they passed out the food to all the hungry drivers who were touched by the simple, yet a vital gift.

“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.”

Hill, who helped pass out 500 of the truck’s estimated 8,000 loaves of bread, admitted that he was praying in the back of his truck before Casey and her husband John approached him. Hill was almost prepared to hand out the bread and “catch the weight later.”

(Courtesy of Casey Holihan Noe)

“From what I can gather, it was very icy, slippery, and they were on somewhat of a hill,” said 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 recalled that just a few hours earlier everyone stuck in the jam had been incredibly frustrated and started honking. This small act of kindness changed the entire perspective and they found community amidst the crisis. 

(Courtesy of Casey Holihan Noe)

“We got to talk to some of them, 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-19 that won’t be forgotten,” Casey said. 

After being stuck in the snow for 27 hours, Casey and John used shovels stored in their trunk to help clear a pathway to freedom. All the vehicles were cleared by the evening of Jan. 4, with no injuries or deaths reported. 

Upon sharing this story on Facebook, Casey saw her post go viral and move the hearts of netizens, as it accumulated 50,000 reactions and 29,000 shares. 

The Schmidt Baking Company could have made a huge profit with a truckload of bread and a highway full of hungry people. Instead, they chose to help the stranded people in that snowstorm, a heartwarming reminder of the goodness still present in people’s hearts.