A New Jersey woman has helped raise more than $300,000 for a homeless man who helped her when she was in a time of need. (Editor's note: The figure was updated Friday, Nov. 24, 2017.)
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Kate McClure was driving on I-95 in Philadelphia recently when her car ran out of gas. According to PhillyVoice.com, McClure got out of her car to walk to a gas station when she was approached by a homeless man, identified only as Johnny. Johnny told McClure to get back in her car and lock the door. He later returned to the vehicle with a can of gas. He had purchased the gas with what little money he had.
McClure, who was in town to visit a friend, didn’t have anything to give to repay Johnny at the time, so she told him she would return.
She kept her word.
According to a post online, McClure says she returned to visit Johnny, 34, at his spot by the side of the interstate with clothes, food and money. Each time, Johnny showed gratefulness and generosity.
“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,” McClure wrote. “He was very appreciative as usual and the first thing he said was, ‘Do you want one?’ Another time I dropped off (two) 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 (two) others he hangs out with, and they all take care of each other.”
McClure still felt compelled to do more for Johnny, so she created a GoFundMe account, hoping to raise $10,000 to help get Johnny a car, an apartment and some materials and amenities.
In less than two weeks, McClure raised more than $318,000.
“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,” McClure wrote. “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. (I) truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break.”
Johnny told PhillyVoice.com that he was once a licensed paramedic and also served in the Marine Corps. He said he moved to Philadelphia last year with plans to start a new job, but when things fell through, he became homeless.
He says now he wants to get a job at the Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville, New Jersey, and hopes to one day become recertified as a paramedic.
“(This) changes my life,” he said.