PHILADELPHIA — A homeless veteran who has received a windfall of donations after an act of kindness plans on passing on his good karma to others.
“Everybody out there is facing some kind of struggle, so if I can touch their life, the way mine was touched, [it’d be] an amazing feeling,” Johnny Bobbitt Jr. told ABC. “I want to feel the feeling on the opposite end.”
Bobbitt was living under a bridge last month when Kate McClure ran out of gas late at night on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia.
Scared and nervous, she got out of the car to head to the nearest gas station and met Bobbitt. 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.
Bobbitt didn’t ask for money; McClure didn’t have any on her then. Over the next few weeks, she gave him a jacket, gloves, a hat and socks. She would give him a few dollars each time she saw him.
But McClure wanted to do more. About two weeks ago, she and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, who both live in New Jersey, started a GoFundMe page. They hoped to raise $10,000 — enough money for first and last month’s rent, a reliable vehicle and up to six months of expenses.
The story ran in a local paper and later went viral. By Monday the fund exceeded $376,000. More than 13,000 people have made donations, the GoFundMe page said.
‘Of course I want to change my life’
“It’s like winning the lottery,” Bobbitt told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in a joint interview with McClure Sunday.
Bobbitt said he would definitely get a place to live — but that he wouldn’t be splurging on a brand new car.
“You know of course I want to change my life,” he said. “I want to give a lot of it away.”
“I just got her gas to help her get back on her way. I didn’t think anything about it. I wasn’t expecting anything in return,” ABC quoted Bobbitt as saying. “That’s how I got the money to start with — from other people. [I had to] return the favor. I can’t constantly take and not give back.”
Bobbitt told ABC it was a struggle to be out on the streets and people viewed the homeless differently.
“This money was given to help me. Why not help other people in similar situations or people that are actively helping other people in different situations?” he said.
Earlier this month, Bobbitt flashed a wide smile when McClure and D’Amico told him about the first set of donations amounted to $769.
“God, that’s amazing. Damn, y’all did all that. That is awesome,” he said, stroking that beard in a video McClure took then.
D’Amico told him a lot of people wanted to help him.
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.”
Bobbitt, a North Carolina native, lived in Missoula, Montana, according to his Facebook page. He studied nursing and was a former paramedic and firefighter. He also served in Marine Corps, according to the page.