A New Jersey woman who was helped by a homeless man last month after she ran out of petrol on an interstate in Philadelphia has raised more than US$110,000 ($160,000) for the selfless good Samaritan.

Kate McClure, 27, started the GoFundMe campaign 12 days ago after she ran into trouble on Interstate 95 and Johnny Bobbitt jnr came to her rescue with his last $20.

Speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer, McClure said she didn't know what to do when she pulled over on the deserted highway just before midnight. "My heart was beating out of my chest."

She phoned her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, 38, and asked him to come and get her. It was then that Bobbitt jnr emerged from the darkness and approached her car.

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"Ten minutes later," D'Amico said, "she called me and said the guy bought her gas."

The former Marine veteran and EMT was concerned for her safety along the stretch of road and told her to lock the doors and stay in her car while he went to fetch the fuel.

McClure, who works for the New Jersey Department of Transportation said she didn't have any money to repay him that night.

"We drove away and went on with our lives," D'Amico said.

But over the next few days the couple returned to the road several times to give him cash, clothes and food.

They also got to know him more and talked about his predicament.

"Johnny said, 'Yeah, tell me about bad luck. But don't get me wrong. I'm here because of my own decisions. I got nobody to blame but myself''," D'Amico said.

D'Amico and McClure were struck by how Bobbitt refused to blame others for his situation.

"I can't stop thinking about this guy. I think about him all the time," D'Amico texted McClure.

"OMG! Me, too!" McClure replied.

D'Amico gathered up old winter clothes, a black knit cap, and black insulated gloves.

He and McClure then bought him a six-pack of tube socks, a bunch of granola bars, and basic toiletries.

"He was very excited," D'Amico said.

"He shook my hand and he gave her a bear hug," McClure said.

"He said he'd go to Wawa right away and buy dinner. He loves the pepperoni hoagies."

"And the pepperoni and cheese bagels," D'Amico said.

In August 2014, he wrote that he wanted to be a flight nurse. He had been training to be a paramedic. Photo / GoFundMe
In August 2014, he wrote that he wanted to be a flight nurse. He had been training to be a paramedic. Photo / GoFundMe

The couple said they were impressed by Bobbitt's desire to share the gifts he received from them with his other homeless friends. This, they say, inspired them to do more.

"They all look out for each other," McClure said.

"Mark and I got back in the car and we were like, 'Man, if we could change this guy's life.' And that's when we came up with the idea of GoFundMe."

Learning more about Bobbitt they resolved to get him back on his feet, but did not anticipate the level of generosity from the public.

After a few visits, she started the fundraiser with the hopes of using the money towards housing and other expenses for the 34-year-old Bobbitt.

"I wish that I could do more for this selfless man, who went out of his way just to help me that day," she wrote on the fundraising page.

Donations have poured in, and the fundraiser has shattered its goal of raising US$10,000 for Bobbitt in only 12 days. Currently the total raised has risen past the US$110,000 mark. Photo / GoFundMe
Donations have poured in, and the fundraiser has shattered its goal of raising US$10,000 for Bobbitt in only 12 days. Currently the total raised has risen past the US$110,000 mark. Photo / GoFundMe

Donations have poured in, and the fundraiser has shattered its goal of raising $10,000 for Bobbitt.

McClure and D'Amico said they will manage all of the funds that have been donated to Bobbitt.

The cash will go towards renting an apartment for Bobbitt and paying for necessities like food, clothing, cellphone, and transportation.

He will also receive a small amount of cash for walking-around money.

Originally from the Raleigh, North Carolina, area, Bobbitt served in the Marines as an ammunition technician.

His Facebook page shows photos of happier times in his life, including a romantic relationship that ended in 2014.

Homeless man Johnny Bobbitt Jr reads the article about him in the paper. Photo / GoFundMe
Homeless man Johnny Bobbitt Jr reads the article about him in the paper. Photo / GoFundMe

Bobbitt also had career goals - training to be a paramedic and working long shifts.

He is seen playfully carrying a dog and smiling while standing beside a medical rescue helicopter.

In August 2014, he wrote that he wanted to be a flight nurse.

His life took an unfortunate turn that left him homeless in Philadelphia for the past 18 months.

Bobbitt fell onto hard times, encountering money problems. He also turned to drugs and had several run-ins with the law.

His friends say he has a "good heart" and that if he wanted to he could be a doctor.

In November 2014, he posted an inspirational message on his Facebook page: "It's never too late to turn it all around. Be honest with yourself and others."

About 3100 people had given to the campaign by Wednesday evening.

"Driving into Philly one night, I made the mistake of thinking that I would be able to make it all the way down I- 95 with my gas light on," McClure wrote on GoFundMe.

Kate McClure, pictured with boyfriend Mark D'Amico, is raising money for Johnny Bobbitt Jr. Photo / Facebook
Kate McClure, pictured with boyfriend Mark D'Amico, is raising money for Johnny Bobbitt Jr. Photo / Facebook

"Needless to say, I was wrong. I never ran out of gas before, and my heart was beating out of my chest.

"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. Johnny sits on the side of the road every day, holding a sign.

"He saw me pull over and knew something was wrong. 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.

"Johnny did not ask me for a dollar, and I couldn't repay him at that moment because I didn't have any cash, but I have been stopping by his spot for the past few weeks.

"I repaid him for the gas, gave him a jacket, gloves, a hat, and warm socks, and I give him a few dollars every time I see him.

"I wish that I could do more for this selfless man, who went out of his way just to help me that day.

"He is such a great guy, and talking to him each time I see him makes me want to help him more and more.

McClure, 27, started the GoFundMe campaign earlier this month after she said she ran out of gas on Interstate 95 and Bobbitt walked a few blocks and bought her some with his last $20. Photo / GoFundMe
McClure, 27, started the GoFundMe campaign earlier this month after she said she ran out of gas on Interstate 95 and Bobbitt walked a few blocks and bought her some with his last $20. Photo / GoFundMe

"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.

"He was very appreciative as usual and the first thing he said was 'do you want one?'

"Another time I dropped off 2 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 2 others he hangs out with and they all take care of each other).

"If just those 2 statements alone do not give you a glimpse of the good heart this man has I'm not sure anything will.

"I am raising money for Johnny. 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.

"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.

"Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break. Hopefully with your help I can be the one to give it to him.

"Please help this man get into a home. It is already getting so cold out in Philadelphia, and I can't imagine what it will be like to be out there all winter.

"Any little bit will help."

"Johnny has reflected on his life," D'Amico said.

"He just needs a push in the right direction. I can't imagine how hard it is. He's from the Carolinas. He's a thousand miles from home with nothing, nobody. Things probably snowballed to where he's living under a bridge."

Bobbitt told the couple that he wants to live in Robbinsville, New Jersey, and work at the Amazon warehouse.

"He definitely has the drive," D'Amico said.

"He doesn't want to be on the streets anymore. He wants to be a functioning member of society and not be sitting on a guard rail in Philadelphia.

"He knows where he's at and he knows what he has to do to dig himself out,' D'Amico said.

"It's almost impossible to dig himself out if he has nobody and nothing. If we can raise enough money to set him up for a few months, where he doesn't have to worry about where he's going to sleep and what he's going to eat, then he can get a job and go about his life."

- AP, Daily Mail