Woman Pays for Hotel Rooms for Homeless Chicagoans During Polar Vortex

A commuter walks near a thermometer registering -18 degrees in the Loop on January 30, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Businesses and schools have closed, Amtrak has suspended service into the city, more than a thousand flights have been cancelled and mail delivery has been suspended as the city copes with record-setting low temperatures.
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

If you need proof to warm up your cold heart, proof that not everyone in the world is a horrible person, then look no further than the people of Chicago. I know that it seems strange to point you towards the Windy City to give you the warm fuzzies during a time when it’s reportedly colder than a polar bear’s toenails sitting in a full ice bath inside a walk-in freezer in an igloo restaurant in Antartica, but I assure you that the good Chicagoans are letting their humanitarian spirit shine.

Candace Payne, a 34-year-old Chicago area real-estate developer didn’t want to wait for someone else to step up to help her fellow man. In turn, Payne decided that she would be the blessing and posted this message to her twelve thousand Instagram followers:

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That one move sparked donations of transportation, food and money from people she barely knew.

“I had strangers from social media who are now lifelong friends helping me,” she told CNN.

In no time, Payne’s group of eight South Side business leaders had “booked some 60 rooms for more than 100 people, including children and families,” Payne told CNN.

“I have people dropping by daily to help who have seen the story on Instagram,” she said. “They have volunteered money and time and cars because we had to get them to the hotel.”

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“I also have a real estate brokerage, so some of the agents came out to help,” she said. “They cooked for the homeless, helping serve them.”

They even turned one room into a makeshift donation center that they were using to sort through bundles of clothing; jackets, scarves and sweaters, The Chicago Tribune reports.

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Payne’s plan was to help those living in a tent city near the Dan Ryan Expressway, where a propane tank fire forced out dozens of folks who’d been sleeping there.

The Salvation Army had initially gotten a request for housing but soon learned that Payne and her team had taken care of those who’d been displaced.

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“We are thrilled that they are safe and warm,” charity spokeswoman Jacqueline Rachev told CNN.

“We got people from the police stations, hospitals, outside huddled around fire pits. We drove around looking for them,” she said. “What inspired me was my current blessings, so I was just trying to give back.”

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About the author

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.