Note: we are republishing this story in light of recent reports that suggest more and more people all across the country are experiencing random acts of kindness from workers even amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A North Carolina business owner is being praised for going above and beyond to help people stranded in the freezing cold.
Sarah Kelleher, 33, was driving from Columbia, South Carolina, to Nashville, Tennessee, when the rain started to freeze.
"The temperature dropped to 28 and rain started to freeze and accumulate on my windshield," Kelleher told Weather.com. "I was losing traction in my car."
Kelleher knew it wasn't safe to continue driving, so she pulled off the next exit that had a hotel. But once she pulled off the exit, she spun out and slid off the road.
Once she came to a stop, Kelleher spotted a minivan in the grass that she assumed experienced the same thing she did. But there was nobody in the car. She got out of her car and walked to a nearby gas station to get out of the cold.
"When I got to the gas station, the driver of the minivan was there," she said. "It was a mother with four children."
Hitesh Patel is the owner of Saluda Truck Plaza in Saluda, North Carolina, where Kelleher and the mother both went after sliding off the road, reports WJZY.
The gas station normally closes at 10 pm, but that night, as Patel saw the two drivers and a group of children stranded in the cold, he decided to keep his doors open.
Patel decided to let the Kelleher and the other family sleep in his gas station that night. He brought in cots for them to sleep on, a space heater and a television to keep the kids entertained.
"I was so thankful because I would have no idea where to go besides sit in my car all night if it wasn't for them," Kelleher said. "In fact, I probably would have tried to get back on the highway and risk driving if I didn't have that place to stay last night, so who knows? I could very well owe them my life right now!"
"I saw one of the girls," Patel told WJZY. "She looked like my niece. She lives in Lincolnton, North Carolina, so I said if that would be my sister or niece, then anybody can do it, so I said just leave it open."
LaShea Colson is the mother who stayed at the gas station that night with her children. She called Patel "an angel" for letting them stay the night. Her children decorated thank-you notes, which they gave to Patel to show their gratitude for his kindness.