Each night on his way to work, Jim Copeland stops at a Circle K in Springfield, Illinois to pick up a bottle of water and a doughnut, often chatting with the clerk who’s there every night. Over time, the clerk revealed to Copeland that he everyday he walks two hours to work and two hours back after working a 10 hour shift.
The clerk’s name is Johnny Phillips and he’s a hard-working father of three that would do anything for his children, even if that means dealing with the heat or cold each evening and morning, since he works the night shift. Phillips said that there’s no bus stop where he lives and even if there was, he can’t rely on the schedule in case something comes up.
“That walk is real brutal,” Phillips said.
After Copeland heard his story, he decided he wanted to help in some way. He immediately thought about buying Phillips a trustworthy bike that he could rely on for transportation and searched Craiglist for a good bike at a good price. After finding and purchasing the one he wanted, he took it to his friend “who’s a bike nut,” Copeland walked the bike with newly adjusted brakes and an oiled chain towards the Circle K. He told Phillips to close his eyes and then took him outside to show him his new mode of transportation.
Phillips was absolutely thrilled with this generous surprise and expressed a range of emotions. In a video taken by Copeland, Phillips is shown as being moved to tears.
“He’s laughing down deep inside, then he started tearing up,” Copeland recalled.
However, when approached by News Channel 20 for an interview, Copeland declined to participate because the story isn’t about him, it’s about Phillips and the remarkable young man that he is. It’s his dedication and his resilience that drove Copeland to perform this good deed, so he wanted the focus to be on Phillips.
Phillips’ tears were, of course, tears of joy because there is much more to this young man’s story than meets the eye. Though he is hard-working and would do anything to keep his job for his kids, he has at times been homeless and down on his luck.
“Every time I got rained on, every time I got trapped in the snow, every time I was sweating beads down my face, and for someone to go out of their way, and do something to help me, you know, I just sat there and cried there wasn’t much I could say,” Phillips said.
“He’s like one in a million. For him to do something like that for me, out of all people because you know I don’t really have a lot of good fortune like that all the time.”
Despite all of the setbacks in his life, Phillips says he’s rebuilding himself slowly. When living on the streets, he relied on the generosity of people while simultaneously learning not to trust them, so this act of kindness has helped restore his faith in others. Phillips didn’t even know Copeland’s name when he presented him with the gift, but now he’s happy to have also made a new friend because of all of this.
When speaking with Phillips’ 4-year-old son, Jace, he only had good things to say about his dad.
“He works good,” Jace said. “I love my dad, love him so much, because of all the things he does for me.”
“Thank you,” Phillips said when asked what he would like to say to Copeland. “Thank you so much, for even taking time out of your life to think of me. And I will see you when you come in to get a donut, you know where I am at!”
Watch the video below, which was posted on Twitter, to hear the story for yourself.
I gave this bike to the station attendant, he has to walk 2 hrs to work and 2 hrs back home, after a 10 hr shift.. pic.twitter.com/uR4mcI4KbU
— POOR OL JC. (@POOROLJC) July 4, 2017