(Reuters) – A homeless man who spent his last $20 on a New Jersey woman whose car ran out of gas has received more than $325,000 in charitable pledges after she started a fund-raising drive to reward him for his generosity.
Kate McClure, 27, launched a page on GoFundMe.com that had raised $325,420 for the man, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., as of Friday afternoon. The number was rising steadily throughout the day.
Bobbitt describes himself as a 34-year-old former U.S. Marine and paramedic who has been homeless for about a year, according to NJ.com, the website whose story on the encounter helped spark the fundraising interest.
McClure said on the GoFundMe website she was driving on Interstate 95 one night last month when she ran out of gas. She then met Bobbitt, who had been sitting on the side of the road with a panhandling sign.
He told her go back to her car and lock her doors, McClure said.
“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,” McClure said on GoFundMe.com.
Bobbitt told BBC Radio on Friday that he considered the side of the road an unsafe place for anyone, especially for a woman by herself.
“She just seemed like she needed help,” Bobbitt said. “The situation I’m in, people help me every day. When I have the chance to help someone else, it’s the right thing to do.”
After the highway incident, McClure went back periodically to check on Bobbitt, bringing warm clothes and some cash. Eventually she and her husband decided to start a formal effort to raise money for rent, a car and other expenses until he can find a job.
The fund has grown by thousands of dollars in recent days as widespread media coverage combined with goodwill surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday appeared to have unleashed a groundswell.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Tom Brown)