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Meet the woman who helped get shelter for dozens of Chicago’s homeless in polar vortex

Candice Payne posted on Instagram that she bought hotel rooms for homeless people in Chicago during the polar vortex — then friends and strangers online stepped up to rent 60 hotel rooms for those in need.
Candice Payne posted on Instagram that she bought hotel rooms for homeless people in Chicago during the polar vortex — then friends and strangers online stepped up to rent 60 hotel rooms for those in need. Screengrab from CBS Chicago

As frigid cold enveloped Chicago and much of the midwest U.S., Candice Payne worried about those at a nearby homeless shelter.

So the 34-year-old, her husband and friends went to the camp Tuesday night — and found enough people to fill up 20 rooms at a nearby motel, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Each room cost around $70, but the real estate worker said she didn’t mind spending around $1,400 at Amber Inn.

“This is just regular people trying to help,” she told The Chicago Tribune. “We wanted to get as much of them out of there as possible.”

The following day, she found more people at the camp who needed motel rooms.

Payne shared her good deed on Instagram. And she asked people to send her $70 on Cash App to pay for a person’s room and meals so they could stay warm in the polar vortex.

Before long, more and more strangers offered to pitch in and help, according to CBS Chicago.

“All of us don’t know each other,” Payne told the TV station.

About 60 motel rooms were filled with Chicago’s homeless who wanted to avoid the historic cold, CBS reported on Thursday.

One of those people, identified just as Jermaine, said the free motel room was completely unexpected.

“We don’t get that type of help,” Jermaine told CBS. “I really needed them at that point, so they came right in time.”

Check out photos from of dangerous cold weather gripping much of the U.S. as the polar vortex dips deeper into the country.

Families with children now have shelter because of Payne’s idea, CNN reported. In total, about 100 people were given a warm place.

Payne told CNN that the outpouring of support has been amazing.

“I have people dropping by daily to help who have seen the story on Instagram; they have volunteered money and time and cars because we had to get them to the hotel,” she told CNN. “I also have a real estate brokerage, so some of the agents came out to help. They cooked for the homeless, helping serving them.”

Christopher Jones and Tyann Crawl — two homeless men who also found shelter in the motel — were discovered by Payne’s friend in an abandoned home that lacked electricity, according to The Chicago Tribune. Jones said “it was rough” trying to get through the biting cold, while Crawl warned that they “don’t have nowhere else to go” when they leave the motel on Saturday.

But as reported by CBS, Payne’s group is “hoping to continue working together to help provide a more long-term solution for these people in need.”

In the process, Payne said those random people who were just looking to help have become something much more.

“I had strangers from social media who are now lifelong friends helping me,” Payne said, according to CNN.

Interstate roads between North Dakota and Minnesota were nearly invisible on Tuesday January 29, 2019, as the 'Arctic Blast' bore down.

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