Kate McClure’s miscalculation has blessed the lives of thousands, if not millions of people. And drastically changed the life of Johnny Bobbitt.
Late one November night the New Jersey woman ran out of gas on Interstate 95 on her way to Philadelphia. After coasting down the exit ramp, McClure said, “I pulled over as far as I could and got out of the car to head to the nearest gas station. That’s when I met Johnny. He told me to get back in the car and lock the doors. 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.”
Obviously grateful, but without any cash Kate promised to return and repay Johnny’s kindness. Over the next several days she returned with cash, snacks, toiletries and gift cards to help the Marine Corp veteran who had fallen on hard times.
Finally, McClure, along with her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, decided to do more to help Johnny so he wouldn’t have to spend the holidays on the streets. They set up a GoFundMe page on November 10 with the modest goal of raising $10,000 so they could get Johnny into an apartment and help him get on his feet again. As of this morning, over $400,000 has been raised in the past 27 days.
From the proceeds, Bobbitt has been able to buy a home and is purchasing the “dream truck he’s always wanted,” a 1999 Ford Ranger. Two trusts will be set up in his name as well, one that will provide him will a small “salary” each year and a retirement trust, “which will be wisely invested by a financial planner.” A bank account was also set up for Bobbitt with funds for everyday needs “that will get him through until he finds a job,” McClure wrote.
Bobbitt has been overwhelmed by the kindness of McClure and so many strangers. “People talk about Philly… I have honestly met more good people than bad, I really have. Like y’all! I mean that is amazing,” Bobbitt told them.
“The feeling is indescribable and it all thanks to the support and generosity that each and every one of you has shown,” Bobbitt wrote of purchasing his new home. “I’ll continue to thank you every single day for the rest of my life.”
There are so many lessons from this heartwarming story.
(1) It’s so easy to misjudge the homeless beggar. I know. I’ve done it. Everyone has a story. While there were several circumstantial situations that contributed to Bobbitt’s misfortune, he admitted, “I’m here because of my own decisions. I got nobody to blame but myself.” Yet, here was a man with a kind heart. Willing to spend his last $20 to help a stranded motorist.
(2) One person can make a big difference. Suppose Kate McClure had simply thanked Bobbitt and never returned. Or her appreciation had ended with paying back the money and providing a few snacks. Her decision to help has not only changed the life of Johnny Bobbitt but influenced and involved thousands of people.
(3) The combined efforts of many people can accomplish more than one person alone. Kate did what she could. But it was only so much. Her resources were limited. To date, 14,227 people have contributed to this cause. Most in amounts of $10 to $50. Yet together they’ve added up to a huge amount.
(4) Pay it forward. Helped by a “Good Samaritan,” Bobbitt now wants to be the “Good Samaritan” for others. “I just want to do the right thing,” Bobbitt said, noting that he plans to donate some of the money to organizations that help those in need.
“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.
“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,” Bobbitt said. “I want to feel the feeling on the opposite end.”
What a great story! And what real-life lessons in the virtues of kindness, compassion, generosity, and goodness.
It’s a wonderful reminder to put into practice the Biblical admonitions to “be kind to one another”(Eph 4:32). And to have a heart of compassion like the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:30-37).
“Go and do likewise.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman