A young woman has raised over $300,000 for a homeless man who spent his last $20 to buy her gas after she became stranded on a major interstate on her drive Philadelphia last month.
Pulled over on the side of I-95, Kate McClure, 27, was approached by a homeless man named Johnny Bobbitt who told her to get back into her car and to lock the doors while he walked to get her help. He went to a nearby gas station where he used his last $20 fill a can and brought it back to fill up her car.
Here’s how McClure recalled Bobbitt’s good deed:
Driving into Philly one night, I made the mistake of thinking that I would be able to make it all the way down I- 95 with my gas light on. Needless to say, I was wrong. I never ran out of gas before, and my heart was beating out of my chest. I pulled over as far as I could, and got out of the car to head to the nearest gas station.
That’s when I met Johnny. Johnny sits on the side of the road every day, holding a sign. He saw me pull over and knew something was wrong. He told me to get back in the car and lock the doors. A few minutes later, he comes back with a red gas can. Using his last 20 dollars to make sure I could get home safe.
Johnny did not ask me for a dollar, and I couldn’t repay him at that moment because I didn’t have any cash, but I have been stopping by his spot for the past few weeks. I repaid him for the gas, gave him a jacket, gloves, a hat, and warm socks, and I give him a few dollars every time I see him.
I wish that I could do more for this selfless man, who went out of his way just to help me that day. He is such a great guy and talking to him each time I see him makes me want to help him more and more.
One day I stopped to see him and had a few things in a bag to give him, one of which was a box of cereal bars so he could have something that he could carry around and eat. He was very appreciative as usual and the first thing he said was “do you want one?” Another time I dropped off 2 Wawa gift cards and a case of water.. the first words that came out of his mouth were “I can’t wait to show the guys” (there are 2 others he hangs out with and they all take care of each other). If just those 2 statements alone do not give you a glimpse of the good heart this man has I’m not sure anything will.
I am raising money for Johnny. With the money, I would like to get him first and last month’s rent at an apartment, a reliable vehicle, and 4-6 months worth of expenses. He is very interested in finding a job, and I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night’s rest, his life can get back to being normal.
In just two weeks, McClure’s GoFundMe campaign which began with an ambitious $10,000 goal to help Bobbitt get back on his feet, has turned into a Global story and has raised over $313,000 as of Friday morning.
“It just blew up,” McClure said.
Bobbitt, 34, told McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, that he has been homeless for about a year. He said he was previously a certified paramedic, and also served in the Marine Corps.
According to The Miami Herald:
After moving around the country for a time, he came to Philadelphia a year ago with a job lined up and some money to buy a truck. But soon after the job fell through, leaving Johnny surviving off meager savings. Later, he lost his paperwork, rendering him unable to work. One night on the streets turned into a week, and ultimately a year of homelessness.
Learning his story, and sifting through his old Facebook photos, McClure and D’Amico said they were shocked to see how quickly Johnny’s life had changed from that of a working man who vacationed on the beach to one living off the streets of Philadelphia.
“It’s crazy, you can relate to that,” McClure said. “You look through and think, ‘that could be me.’”
Last week, the couple surprised Bobbitt with the campaign, telling him they had already raised $1,700 and planned to keep going.
“That changes my life, right there,” Bobbitt said of the $1,700, captured in a video McClure took. “I’ve honestly met more good people than bad,” he said of his time in the “City of Brotherly Love.”
The Herald adds:
Johnny has started the process of getting his paperwork replaced, as he’s currently without identification or Veteran’s Affairs papers, McClure said. He hopes to get a job at the Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville, and down the road, hopes to take the test to become recertified as a paramedic in Pennsylvania or New Jersey.
And McClure and D’Amico are confident they can get him started on that path soon, hoping to place him in a room to rent in an apartment within two weeks as they continue to fundraise.
As you can see from a 2012 Facebook post, Bobbitt has always had a helping heart:
“When I still look at (the GoFundMe), it blows my mind,” McClure said. “It’s actually going to happen for him.”