How a homeless man’s touching act of spending his last $20 to buy fuel for a stranger stranded with no money in a bad area transformed his life.
A New Jersey woman who was helped by a homeless man after she ran out of fuel on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia has raised more than $275,000 for the good Samaritan.
Kate McClure, 27, said that she didn’t know what to do when she was stranded on the deserted highway just before midnight.
“My heart was beating out of my chest,” she said.
She phoned her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, 38, and asked him to come and get her. It was then that Bobbitt Jr emerged from the darkness and approached her car.
“Ten minutes later,” D’Amico said, “she called me and said the guy brought her gas.”
Bobbitt, a former Marine veteran and EMT was concerned for her safety along the stretch of road and told her to lock the doors and stay in her car while he went to fetch the fuel.
The homeless man walked a few blocks and bought her some fuel with his last $20.
McClure said she didn’t have any money to repay him at the time but returned several times to give him cash, clothes and food.
Bobbitt sat on the side of the road every day, holding a sign.
The couple also got to know him better and talked about his predicament.
According to D’Amico, Bobbitt said, “Yeah, tell me about bad luck. But don’t get me wrong. I’m here because of my own decisions. I got nobody to blame but myself.”
McClure and D’Amico were struck by how he refused to blame others for his situation.
They were also impressed by his desire to share the gifts he received from them with his other homeless friends. This, the couple said, inspired them to do more.
Resolving to get him back on his feet, they started the GoFundMe campaign earlier this month with the hopes of raising $10,000 and using the money towards housing and other expenses for 34-year-old Bobbitt.
“I wish that I could do more for this selfless man, who went out of his way just to help me that day,” McClure wrote on the fundraising page. “Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break. Hopefully, with your help, I can be the one to give it to him.”
What defied all expectations was the level of generosity from the public.
Donations poured in from about 10,000 people by Thursday and the fundraiser exceeded $275,000.
Kate has been posting updates to the GoFundMe page, including one that looks more into Bobbitt’s past.
After finding his Facebook page, she revealed he had served in the US Marine Corps as an ammunition technician and worked as a firefighter/paramedic.
His Facebook page shows photos of happier times in his life, including a romantic relationship that ended in 2014.
Bobbitt also had career goals – training to be a paramedic.
He is seen playfully carrying a dog and smiling while standing beside a medical rescue helicopter.
In August 2014, he wrote that he wanted to be a flight nurse.
His life took an unfortunate turn that left him homeless in Philadelphia for the past 18 months.
Bobbitt fell on hard times – encountering money problems. He also turned to drugs and had several run-ins with the law.
His friends say he has a “good heart” and that if he wanted to he could be a doctor.
In November 2014, he posted an inspirational message on his Facebook page: “It’s never too late to turn it all around. Be honest with yourself and others.”
Early Thursday morning, Kate revealed that they had put Bobbitt up in a hotel room for the holiday weekend, sharing a photo of him.
On Thanksgiving Day, Kate posted another update to the fundraiser saying Bobbitt had asked her to please stop accepting donations.
“Johnny asked me to please stop accepting donations today. He is beyond humbled by the amount of support and love he has received over the last few days! He asked, instead of donating to his campaign, to maybe take a second to search for another worthy cause that, for whatever reason, hasn’t gotten the attention his has,” she wrote.
McClure and D’Amico said that they will manage all of the funds that have been donated to Bobbitt.
The cash will go toward renting an apartment for him and paying for necessities like food, clothing, cellphone and transportation.
He will also receive a small amount of cash for walking-around money.
“Johnny has reflected on his life,” D’Amico said.
“He just needs a push in the right direction. I can’t imagine how hard it is. He’s from the Carolinas. He’s a thousand miles from home with nothing, nobody. Things probably snowballed to where he’s living under a bridge.”
Bobbitt told the couple that he wants to live in Robbinsville, New Jersey, and work at the Amazon warehouse.
“He definitely has the drive,” D’Amico said.
“He doesn’t want to be on the streets anymore. He wants to be a functioning member of society and not be sitting on a guardrail in Philadelphia.
“He knows where he’s at and he knows what he has to do to dig himself out,” D’Amico said.