A homeless man was given £12,400 in donations after capturing the hearts of strangers in a series of viral videos.
‘Mike’, 46, welled up when he was presented with the money while sat in the car of his friend Phlip Vu, 24.
The pair met when Mike offered to clean Phillip’s car windows in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Phillip had been driving around the country after quitting his graduate job and was making videos for his social media channels.
After initially refusing to talk to Mike, he decided to buy him a sandwich and offered him a seat in the car to get out of the -10C temperatures.
They struck up an unlikely friendship and Phillip posted clips of their chats on TikTok, attracting millions of views.
Strangers were soon getting in touch and wanted to donate money to help out and, in a matter of days, thousands of dollars had been pledged.
At their next mealtime meet up, Phillip handed over some of the cash and revealed the online fundraiser total – recording Mike’s amazed and heartwarming reaction.
Phillip Vu and Mike met in New Haven and struck up an unlikely friendship (Picture: SWNS)
Content creator Phillip, from Newport Beach, California, 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.
‘We can fix homeless in the US because a life was changed with just $17,000 – we can make a difference in these peoples lives.’
The life-changing sum of money is enough to ensure Mike has somewhere warm to stay for a year (Picture: SWNS)
Phillip has been living out of his car for the past eight months, while travelling around the country on his trip.
He was on a stop over on a drive to New York when he met Mike on January 31 2021.
As they began to chat, they found out they had more in common than they first thought.
Phillip said: ‘I thought we were two sides from a different coin. 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.
Strangers wanted to donate after watching the viral videos (Picture: SWNS)
‘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 told Phillip his father died when he was young, and he’d lost contact with his family.
In their TikTok videos he admitted he had been to prison a number of times.
But after his mother died last year, decided he wanted to ‘make money honestly’, and has been to pumping petrol or cleaning windows.
Mike has used some of the money to buy clothes, food and a phone (Picture: SWNS)
Phillip confided his dad passed away when he was young and he’d just decided to live out of his car and drive around after quitting his job as a bank analyst.
Phillip 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 published clips from their heart-to-heart on his TikTok and YouTube accounts a couple of days later, and overnight the videos went viral, racking up nearly two and half million views.
The vlogger said: ‘I never thought any of these videos would get that much traction
‘I didn’t think it would be more than me helping him out, having a conversation, getting to know him.
‘I just wanted to document a video of me and Mike hanging out and sharing an experience.’
On February 12, Chinese New Year, Phillip presented Mike with a red envelope containing $1,000 in cash – the most he could get out at short notice – and he bursts into tears.
Phillip has enlisted financial advisors to help Mike use the money responsibly and get his life back on track.
Mike has bought clothes, food and a phone so the two can stay in touch. He is also currently getting his social security number and birth certificate, and has applied for low-income housing.
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