Imagine someone who has spent the majority of their life sitting with a sign on the side of the road and that very person giving someone their last 2o dollars. That is exactly what Marine Corps veteran Johnny Bobbitt, 34, did in October in Philadelphia.
Bobbitt served in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked as a paramedic in Vance County, N.C. before he became homeless. According to Time, he was discreet about how he got to where he was. Time reported that it was a mix of “bad decisions and bad situations.”
One night in October, Bobbitt was sitting roadside with a sign in Philadelphia, like he always does, when Kate McClure of Florence Township, N.J. was driving down Interstate 95 and ran out of gas. Scared and nervous, she got out of the car to head to the nearest gas station.
As McClure was heading to the nearest gas station, she ran into Bobbitt and he told her to get back in the vehicle and lock the door. Minutes later, he emerged with a red gas can. He had used his last $20 to buy her gas.
After that encounter, McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, who both live in New Jersey, visited Bobbitt several times to deliver gift cards, cash, snacks and toiletries, she told ABC News last month. The couple then decided to create a fundraising page so he would not have to spend the holidays sleeping on the street.
McClure started the GoFundMe page on Nov. 10 with a humble $10,000 goal after Bobbitt helped her when she ran out of gas on Interstate 95 and gave her the last of the money he collected while panhandling.
She wrote,”Johnny sits on the side of the road every day, holding a sign. He saw me pull over and knew something was wrong.”
With the page, the couple hoped to raise $10,000, enough money for first and last month’s rent, a reliable vehicle and up to six months of expenses. According to CNN, the story ran in a local paper and later went viral. By Friday, the amount raised exceeded $300,000.
“I don’t have an explanation for it. I think it was the perfect storm,” D’Amico told CNN.
More than 10,000 people have made donations through the GoFundMe page.
“We wanted to make sure he was safe and go from there,” McClure told CNN on Nov. 23. “I remember when we got our first donation, we were like, ‘holy crap.'”
Earlier in November, Bobbitt smiled when they told him about the first set of donations that amounted to $769
“God, that’s amazing. Damn, y’all did all that? That is awesome,” he said, stroking his beard in a YouTube video McClure took. In the video, Bobbitt talked about the kindness of people in Philadelphia.”People talk about Philly; I have honestly met more good people than bad. I really have,” he said. “Like y’all.”
On Thanksgiving, Bobbitt was resting in a hotel, his feet up on the bed, drawing up a grand plan for his new life, thanks to several thousand dollars that raised to repay him for a good deed.
Bobbitt’s GoFundMe page had currently raised $402,826. McClure wrote that in addition to the home, Bobbitt will purchase the “dream truck he’s always wanted,” a 1999 Ford Ranger. With buying his house and eventually his dream truck, he said he is donating some of his money to a Philadelphia grade school student who is helping another homeless veteran.
According to ABC News, a bank account was also created to help Bobbitt purchase everyday items until he finds a job. He will also be donating to organizations and people who have helped the homeless veteran get through some of the more difficult times in his life recently.
There are also two trust funds being set up for Bobbitt, including a retirement fund and one to give him an annual salary, according to the GoFundMe page.”
Before hearing about Johnny Bobbitt, the idea of a homeless man being so generous with his money was unheard to many individuals.
Alan Perez, freshman education major at Cabrini University, feels that more homeless people should be just like Bobbitt.
“If more homeless men and woman were like Johnny, then maybe society wouldn’t have this misconception of them being unappreciative and mean. But I’m definitely happy that he now has somewhere warm to sleep, like the rest of us,” Perez said.
“Hearing about this story inspires me to give back to the community or makes me want to help people who can’t necessarily help themselves. I just feel like Johnny and Kate did the unthinkable for each other,” said junior graphic design major Cheyenne Burkeholder.