Broken down on the side of the road in Falkland, with her daughter and dog, and truck packed to the brim, is where Alesha Taylor thought her luck had run out.
But it was in that small North Okanagan town where the season of giving started for the single mom, a former Vernon resident.
And it didn’t end there.
Taylor and her daughter, Mattaya, were in the midst of a move from Kelowna to her mom’s house in Kamloops on Dec. 18.
It had already been a rough year for the 30-year-old when she was suddenly stranded in the small town of Falkland.
Initially, Taylor was lost, trying to hold back the tears as she told her five-year-old daughter that everything was going to be OK – despite the fact that a rod had snapped in her engine.
She was just about to give up all hope when a perfect stranger approached her.
“Some guy at the gas station let me store the truck for free at his house in Falkland and drove me all the way to Kamloops with my kid, dog and my stuff, as much as they could fit in their car,” said Taylor, forever grateful to the kind stranger.
A few days later, with insufficient funds to rescue or fix her truck, Taylor reached out for advice on an Okanagan vehicle buy and sell group on facebook.
“It was just before Christmas and I had no idea what I was going to do,” said Taylor, suffering from hip pain so unable to walk the one-kilometre trek to the nearest bus stop with her daughter. “I was searching for advice, help, anything.”
Brian Brown of Penticton saw Taylor’s plea online and as the founder of Rides From Angels – a province-wide group dedicated to connecting people in need with vehicles – he was determined to help.
With more than 600 members involved in his group, Brown started to spread the word that there was a single-mom out there in need of some assistance.
By Boxing Day, Taylor was driving a 1991 Ford F150 – generously donated by a Salmon Arm couple who wanted to help.
“Everybody came together,” said Taylor. “Perfect strangers came together and now we’re getting around.”
She is forever grateful to everyone who helped make her Christmas season merrier, and she too plans to pay it forward.
Although money is still tight, she hopes to one day get her own truck fixed and give the truck she was given to someone else in need.
Brown admits that aside from spreading the word, Rides From Angels actually played a small role in the truck donation.
“A lot of people pitched in and it had very little to do with me on that one,” said Brown, who has since been in discussion with the generous Salmon Arm couple about starting a chapter of Rides From Angels in the North Okanagan/Shuswap region.
The goal of the group, which is working to become a registered charity, is to issue tax receipts to those who donate vehicles, which can then be turned around and given to people in need, like Taylor.
“As long as I get to help someone it makes me feel good,” said Brown, who is admittedly addicted to helping others and paying it forward.
“Although I won’t end up a rich man, I’ll end up with lots of people at my funeral.”
To become a member of Rides From Angels, search the group on facebook.