Irma evacuee pays it forward during Florence

Irma evacuee pays it forward during Florence
A woman who evacuated from Myrtle Beach, SC to Sarasota, FL, received a random act of kindness from a stranger in a parking lot. (Source: Facebook)

SARASOTA, FL (WBRC) - For one South Carolina woman, an act of kindness, that was a year in the making, has come full circle.

Ashleigh Gilleland evacuated from her home in South Carolina to Sarasota, Florida ahead of Hurricane Florence. After eating at a local restaurant, Gilleland spotted a note on the windshield of her car. That note contained a gift card and some cash, along with a note. The note explained the stranger who left the gift had been in the same situation last year, when Hurricane Irma hit the state of Florida.

The note read: “Saw your license plate is from South Carolina. Not sure if you evacuated from the storm, but just know Florida is praying for you and your state. When we had Irma, we evacuated to Alabama and received a similar letter on our car because our Florida license plate, so I wanted to pass it on. We understand how it feels to evacuate. God Bless. Love, Chelsey.”

The woman behind the windshield gift was Florida resident Chelsey Tokan. She knows first-hand what it’s like to be an evacuee during a major hurricane.

“I had nothing but empathy for those people who evacuated,” Tokan told WBRC, “I was in the same position exactly a year ago when Irma hit.”

Tokan and her family evacuated from Florida to Alabama last year ahead of Hurricane Irma. After a stop at a Walmart in Chilton County, she found a gift card and note on her windshield, reading “just a little something to let you know we’re praying for you during this time”.

Tokan remembers the love and support the people of Alabama showed during such a difficult time. So, when she saw the South Carolina license plate, she knew exactly how she could pay it forward.

“I knew a simple note of letting her know people were praying for her and care was the exact act of kindness I needed to return after receiving the same a year ago,” said Tokan, “I just hope the little acts of kindness will continue and we can make this world a better place.”

Gilleland posted the picture of Tokan’s kindhearted gesture to Facebook, and it’s already been shared over 7,000 times.

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