Homeless man breaks down in tears as strangers donate money to help him

News

A homeless man was donated enough money to put a roof over his head for a year after a chance encounter with a stranger went viral.

Phillip Vu, 24, was driving around the US on a road trip when was approached by a man named Mike during a stopover in Connecticut, who offered to clean the windows.

Although Phillip initially turned down the offer, he saw Mike still waiting alone 30 minutes later and bought him a sandwich, inviting him into the car so they could eat together.

When the pair realised they had a lot in common, Phillip began filming for his daily videos posted, to Youtube and TikTok, which quickly went viral as their heartwarming chats were watched millions of time.

Viewers clubbed together to donate money to help Mike, and Phillip captured the emotional moment he surprised his new friend with the cash to find somewhere to live.

In the video, Phillip initially hands over an envelope containing $1,000 (£725) as 42-year-old Mike breaks down in tears, explaining that he will use it to get his identification, buy some boots, begin look for a job, and help out another stranger in need.

But Mike was then told he had been donated more than £12,000 ($17,000), which is enough to put a roof over his head for a year.

Phillip had been living out of his car for eight months, having quit his job at a bank to travel, and said he and Mike found they had more in common than he would have imagined.

“I thought we were two sides from a different coin,” he said.

“We both came from struggling backgrounds and at some point I decided to reconnect with my family and he didn’t – we saw commonalities until that split.

“I was like living my dreams, and he told me his dream was to go travelling one day.

“He’s been fending for his life and trying to support his girlfriend and I’m living out my car for leisure.”

Mike explained that his father had died when he was young and he had lost contact with his family.

He told Phillip that he had been to prison a number of times but was now determined to “make money honestly” and has been pumping petrol and cleaning windows in a bid to get back on his feet.

Phillip, who also lost his own dad when he was young, said: “We have both experienced loss and we just bonded on that.

“I was talking about family, where we’re from and how we both ended up in that situation.”

Phillip, from California, says he never expected the videos of the pair sharing food and conversation would be so popular, with his audience asking how they could help Mike.

A GoFundMe page was started, easily surpassing the initial $1,000 target, and on Chinese New year Phillip handed over the red envelope of cash, which was the most he could withdraw at short notice.

He then showed Mike the fundraising page on his phone and said he struggled to hold it together as he saw how much it meant to his friend.

Phillip says he has enlisted the help of financial advisors to help Mike use the money long-term, and he also now has a phone so the pair can keep in touch.

“I honestly never foresaw any of this happening,” Phillip said.

“I think the reason they were so popular is that it was so normal. I spent so much time on the streets it was something very normal to me, it didn’t occur to me that’s not how most people interact with homeless people.

“He is such a lovely, hard-working human being and I want to humanise him.”

Talking about the moment he gave Mike the good news, he said: “That was probably one of the greatest experiences of my life.

“When I set off on this journey eight months ago when I left home to live out my car and make videos, years in the future my dream was to give a person who deserves it a lump sum of money and change their life.

“I never could’ve imagined only eight months later I would have achieved that.”