NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A homeless man who helped people navigate a flooded subway is now getting a helping hand himself.
Video of his small act of kindness is prompting others to pay it forward, reports CBS2’s Nina Kapur.
Last week’s rainfall brought waterfalls down into the subways.
The Bedford Avenue subway station in Brooklyn was no different, except for the fact that a homeless man stepped up to help.
“When I came in, from the turnstile to the steps, it was like ankle deep in the water,” said Zahir McDonald of Newark. “I usually come here to panhandle. So I figured I couldn’t do that with all this water in the way, that would’ve been selfish of me.”
For hours, McDonald helped commuters avoid stepping in the water.
“These people help me everyday, I got to do something about it, so went outside and got a bucket started scooping the water up,” he said. “People was still coming through so I found a stick and put it down in the water for them to walk over.”
Williamsburg resident Jen Winston witnessed this act of kindness. In a Facetime from Los Angeles, she told CBS2 she had to stop and document it.
That video quickly went viral.
“A few people stopped to watch to admire what a kind New York moment this was,” said Jen Winston of Williamsburg. “I sort of reached out and told my friends, and then I posted the video.”
Days later, when she wanted to thank who she called the “NYC subway stranger,” she asked the internet for help.
Dozens of people reached out to Winston saying they’ve seen him at the Bedford Avenue (l) train stop almost everyday, and not too long after that, Winston herself ran into him again.
On Wednesday, Winston set up a GoFundMe with a goal of $5,000 to help McDonald who has been homeless since losing his telemarketing job in 2014.
“It’s important that we can back up the ‘Likes’ we throw around on social media. If we can turn it into substantial and affect his life, it would be awesome, he affect all our lives.”
“I’m happy, I really appreciate that,” said McDonald. “No one has ever done something like that to me before.”
Winston plans to personally hand McDonald the cash within a month when the campaign ends.
McDonald says as of right now, he has no idea what he’d do with all that money, but he’s very grateful.