by Kevin Burton
Shoutout to Baltimore-based Schmidt Baking Company for feeding hungry motorists stranded on a frozen Virginia highway this week.
A truck jackknifed on Interstate 95 between Richmond and Washington DC Monday, blocking traffic, reported WMAR-TV in Baltimore. That triggered a chain reaction as other vehicles lost control according to state police. Snow was falling in the area at about two inches per hour. Temperatures had dipped into the 20s.
“Thousands of drivers became stuck. By Tuesday morning, many were hungry and in desperate need of food,” WMAR reported.
“Casey Holihan Noe and her husband, John, were among the stranded motorists,” WMAR reports. “After being stuck for nearly a full day with no access to food and water, Noe noticed a Schmidt Baking Company truck was also stuck.”
“We stared at it for hours. All night we stared at the truck, all morning we stared at the truck, and we just stared at these loaves of bread,” Noe said.
Finally, taking a longshot chance, the couple stopped staring and started dialing.
“They called the Schmidt baking customer service hotline and got a personal call from the owner of the company 20 minutes later. The owner also contacted the company truck driver,” the station reported
“He just told us about (how) his company is founded on helping people, helping the homeless, helping people in need,” Noe said. “So, that was right up their alley when I called them, and he was so proud to be able to have helped.”
“The driver opened the back of the truck, and the driver and the couple went car to car to pass out bread to others who were stranded” on the icy highway, the station reported.
Under the headline “Supporting the Community,” the bakery has the following statement on its website: “As a family-owned and operated business raised in Baltimore, MD, we’ve always been humbled by the support given to us over the years by our communities—and we constantly strive to give back however we can.”
“Schmidt Baking Company proudly supports a number of charitable causes both in our hometown of Charm City and across the country.”
I didn’t see on the website, a means of buying their products from distance. I would have bought some of the 100 percent whole wheat bread they sell under the Schmidt-Old Tyme brand, even though a heartlander buying wheat bread from Baltimore would be like someone there buying crabcakes from Kansas.
But I always like giving a little tangible support to businesses that do the right thing, as Schmidt Baking did with the bread.
“We just kept giving it out until we couldn’t walk anymore because it was so freezing,” Noe told 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,” company owner Chuck Paterakis told WBAL.
“It was definitely a very scary situation and we had no idea how long we would be there for,” Noe told WBAL. “This was one of the kindest moments I have ever witnessed.”
The couple was 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.