MASTIC BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An unusual giveaway landed one Long Islander hurt by Superstorm Sandy the trailer home she’s been praying for to help her rebuild.

She won a trailer that put a roof over her head during construction. The only catch? She now has to pay it forward.

Bill Hanson and Celeste Ruhe greeted as they met for the first time since he tipped her off to the trailer lottery she went on to won.

Calling him her angel, Ruhe hugged the man who until last week had been a complete stranger.

“It’s all because someone had dropped plate glass on the road,” Hansen said.

Offering to help clean up the roadside mess, Hansen knocked on Ruhe’s Mastic Beach home, only to discover that she was still trying to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy.

“We got flooded really bad with three feet of water in our basement,” Ruhe said.

The state awarded Ruhe grant money to raise her home, but the local school bus driver will be forced to live elsewhere for two months, wondering how she will afford a temporary rental.

That’s where then stranger Bill Hansen came in.

“He told me about the trailer that was in the news and try to get on the list,” she remembered.

Hansen tipped her off to a Facebook trailer home giveaway. A Long Beach couple who had recently moved back into their now elevated home decided to donate their trailer to another needy Superstorm Sandy family. Over the weekend, Ruhe’s name was chosen in a random lottery of 20 applicants.

“I was touched, I was crying, I was so excited,” Ruhe said.

As a condition for accepting the trailer, the donor family required that Ruhe pass it on to another needy Superstorm Sandy family once she’s through with it.

“No problem,” she said. “I want to do the same kind thing those people did for me.”

She calls Hansen her “true angel.” He says he sees it a little differently.

“Actually, it’s just a random act of kindness,” he told CBS2. Even as the two former strangers celebrated, another stranger has anonymously agreed to move the trailer from Long Beach to Mastic Beach for no charge, yet another example of paying it forward.

Ruhe says she hopes to have the new trailer within a week. She and Hansen have lived less than a mile apart for years, and have now vowed to become best of neighbors.


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