People don’t leave notes on your windshield unless they’re giving insurance information after crashing into you or are saying mean things because you parked like a nincompoop. Seeing a note tucked underneath the wiper rarely leaves you feeling hopeful.

That’s why a man from Ohio and a woman from South Carolina approached their cars cautiously when they saw notes stuck beneath their respective windshield wiper blades. But once they read the hand-written notes left behind for them, they were overwhelmed…

To see the kind of man Kevon Smith Sr. was, all you’d have to do was look around his community near Cleveland, Ohio. There, he coached youth basketball and football, and gave motivational speeches about overcoming drugs and gang life.

Kevon Smith Sr. / Facebook

Most demonstrative of his character was when, in 2016, a player on the basketball team he coached quit because he’d been shot. Kevon dropped everything to visit the player in rehab. He shared this heartfelt message on Facebook…

Kevon Smith Sr. / Facebook

“We’re here to make a difference,” Kevon said of himself and his fellow community mentors. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that when I take a kid two steps up, his environment takes him one step back.”

Kevon Smith Sr. / Facebook

Kevin worked tirelessly to improve the lives of kids in the community, even though, when he connected with a kid, there was always the risk he or she would fall victim to the environment. It was a relatively thankless job — but then Kevon took his infant son to breakfast.

Kevon Smith Sr. / Facebook

In August 2016, Kevon Sr. took Kevon Jr. to Cracker Barrel — a country-themed restaurant with delicious comfort foods. As he enjoyed the time with his son, he couldn’t help but notice an older couple staring at him from the corner of the restaurant.

Naturally, Kevon wondered why the couple watched him. Did they think little Kevon Jr. was just the cutest little thing? Or were they judging him? Luckily, the couple left before the Kevons finished their meal, but they’d spooked Kevon Sr. What were they up to?

He found out as soon as he paid for breakfast and took Kevon Jr. back to the car. Stuck to his windshield was a piece of paper, a note scrawled across it in pen. At first, the dad feared the note criticized his parking or said something rude. Then he read it.

Victor Versus / Flickr

“Today your meal is on my wife and me,” the note read. “Enjoy that baby boy as long as God intends. Keep doing what you’re doing. The Masons.” This, Kevon figured, was the couple that had been staring him. They left cash to pay for breakfast, too!

Kevon Smith Sr. / Facebook

The note touched Kevon. As a kid, he’d grown up without a father, so he committed himself to be there for his baby boy. “There’s a lot of guys I know that aren’t taking care of their kids,” Kevon said. So he wanted to be the outlier. He wanted to be better.

Kevon Smith Sr. / Facebook

Through a commitment to his son and community, the dad hoped “to show that not all of us are out here being gang bangers,” he said. “Some of us are out here being fathers.” The note proved to Kevon he was making a difference in his community, leading by example.

Best of all, Kevon declared he’d tell his son all about this moment in the future. In the meantime? “I’m definitely going to make sure I’m paying it forward,” he said. “Get blessed — I want to bless someone else.”

Kevon Smith Sr. / Facebook

But great-dad Kevon Sr. wasn’t the only person to receive a mysterious windshield note. In September 2018, for instance, Ashleigh Gilleland fled South Carolina as Hurricane Florence headed straight for her home.

Ashleigh Gilliland / Facebook

For the 21-year-old Myrtle Beach resident, the days before the hurricane were panicked. “Once we heard about the hurricane, we contemplated evacuating for about three days,” she said. But the storm grew and grew and decided for her: she’d have to flee to Florida.

Ashleigh headed to Sarasota, where she and her fiancé stayed in a hotel, wondering about the storm tearing through their hometown. For some relief, they went to a wing joint, but after they were done with their meal, she saw a note on her car…

Ashleigh Gilliland / Facebook

“As soon as I got to the car, I checked to see how my parking was because I’ve known people to leave notes on people’s cars who didn’t park very well,” she said. “My parking was fine.” So what was the deal?

Ashleigh unfolded the note and saw it signed by a woman named Chelsea. “Saw your license plate is from South Carolina,” it read. “Not sure if you evacuated from the storm, but just know Florida is praying for you and your state.” The note continued…

Ashleigh Gilliland / Facebook

“When we had Irma, we evacuated to Alabama and received a similar letter on our car because of the Florida license plate,” it said. “We understand how it feels to be evacuated.” After reading, Ashleigh felt something hard attached to the back of the note.

Chelsea had attached a Walmart gift card and a few dollars to the note as well! Incredibly, as a hurricane destroyed her home city, Ashleigh felt a glimmer of peace. Of hope. “I’m so happy to know there are still great people in the world,” she wrote.

Ashleigh Gilliland / Facebook

In fact, Ashleigh channeled that positivity into her future plans. “I’m going to pay it forward once I get home,” she said, “because I know of all the devastation that has happened there over the past week. Myrtle Beach needs some positivity.”

Ashleigh Gilliland / Facebook

A simple note had a profound impact on Ashleigh and Kevon Sr., but, if these two folks truly paid it forward, those who left the notes started a chain reaction that brought even more happiness. Pretty incredible what a note can do, huh?

When news of an incoming hurricane begins stirring the media, most people try to convince themselves that the storm will be manageable enough to ride out. For those in the path of the deadly Hurricane Florence, however, this simply wasn’t an option.

NPR

Deemed a Category 4 hurricane in September of 2018, Hurricane Florence was expected to bring 130 mph winds and heavy flooding along the southeastern coast of the United States. Five states declared a state of emergency and ordered mandatory evacuations.

Over a million people were forced to evacuate in preparation for Florence, but of those displaced by the storm, Ashleigh Gilleland and her fiancé David Greer found their journey away from home to be especially difficult.

Ashleigh Gilleland / Facebook

Residents of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Ashleigh and David were on the fence about abandoning their apartment in favor of staying with family in Sarasota, Florida. But with Ashleigh soon expecting the couple’s first child, they were unwilling to risk the safety of their budding family.

Mattias / Flickr

The storm was fast approaching their coastal hometown, leaving them little time to prepare for evacution. Taking only the essentials and a few pairs of clean clothes, the couple hastily sealed up their apartment and hit the road.

Myrtle Beach Online

The traffic was bumper-to-bumper as Ashleigh and David made the grueling 10-hour, 600-mile trip from Myrtle Beach to Sarasota. As soon as they arrived, Florence made landfall just two hours north of their apartment.

WBUR

Questions swirled in the couple’s head as every news channel ran around-the-clock coverage of the storm’s destructive path. What would become of their apartment? Where would they go from here? As Florence only seemed to grow in intensity, things looked bleak for Ashleigh and David.

Patch

In an attempt to take their minds off the storm, Ashleigh and David turned off the TV and grabbed a bite to eat. The couple decided on Sarasota’s own Wings N Weenies: after all, who could be sad while eating chicken wings?

With their stomachs full and hearts a little lighter, the pair exited the restaurant and headed back to their car. But their relief was short-lived, as a large note stuck to the car’s windshield made their stomachs sink once again.

Spirit 105.3

Naturally, Ashleigh assumed the note was about her park job. Sure, she wasn’t the greatest at parking, but there were definitely much worse parkers out there. But as Ashleigh read the note, her eyes immediately filled with tears.

“[I] saw your license plate is from South Carolina,” the note read. “[I’m] not sure if you evacuated from the storm, but just know Florida is praying for you and your state. When we had [Hurricane] Irma, we evacuated to Alabama and received a similar letter on our car, because [of] our Florida license plate.”

Ashleigh Gilleland / Facebook

“So I wanted to pass it on… we understand how it feels to evacuate,” the note concluded. As they finished reading, the couple realized that the kind stranger had also left cash and a Walmart gift card!

Ashleigh Gilleland / Facebook

Never had the couple experienced such kindness from a stranger before, and they knew they couldn’t let this good deed go unnoticed. Rushing home, Ashleigh took to Facebook to share the amazing discovery with her friends.

Ashleigh Gilleland / Facebook

“This just made my day,” Ashleigh wrote. “I’m so happy to know there are still great people in the world.” But as news of Ashleigh’s good fortune spread throughout her friend group, she never expected how far the post would reach.

Ashleigh Gilleland / Facebook

After only a few days, Ashleigh’s post went viral, accumulating 9,000 likes and over 10,000 shares. The thrill of Ashleigh’s sudden fame helped relieve some of her worry over the state of affairs back home, but it was an unexpected message from a fellow Facebook user that really took the experience to a whole new level.

Huffington Post

Chelsey Tokan, an elementary school teacher from Fort Worth, Florida, reached out to Ashleigh to let her know that she was the one that wrote the note. Contacting her directly, Chelsey wanted to reiterate why she had acted so kindly in the first place.

Chelsey Tokan / Facebook

“The thing that got me through [Hurricane Irma] was the kindness of everyone in and out of my state,” Chelsey explained in her messages with Ashleigh. “Just knowing people really do care makes some things so devastating feel so small! A simple act of kindness can really turn someone’s day around.”

CNN

Chelsey’s words sparked a conversation between the two women, and Ashleigh took the opportunity to thank her personally for the note and gift. “I wish I could’ve met you, and I wish I could have returned the favor,” the 21-year-old wrote. “Just know, I will be paying it forward and will be keeping this chain going!”

Ashleigh Gillelan / Chelsey Tokan / Facebook

Ashleigh soon shared their conversation online. This time, however, Ashleigh began attracting attention from news media outlets, with even Fox News reaching out about her story.

“I was overwhelmed and automatically [started] thinking about how I could pay it forward for someone else,” Ashleigh told Fox News. “The smallest gestures can make the biggest impacts on people’s lives.”

Ashleigh Gillelan / Facebook