Internet Raises Thousands For Blind ‘Can Man’ Trying To Support His Four Granddaughters
With his head buried in a trash bin and one hand resting on a shopping cart full of aluminum cans, JP Kibbler pulls out an empty Coca-Cola can with delight.
Wearing a worn-out blue shirt, baggy pants and shoes with ripped soles, some may assume he’s homeless.
But JP Kibbler, also known as the “Can Man,” assures you he is not.
In fact, he has spent the past 25 years of his life collecting cans to help make sure his daughter and her four children have a roof over their heads.
Thanks to efforts of a man named Matt White and the kindness of dozens of strangers, the 65-year-old Kibbler may not have to worry about that for awhile.
A year and a half ago – in what White calls a “message from God” – White’s car nearly ran out on gas on his way to a voice lesson, and as he pulled into a gas station in “one of the rougher parts of Memphis,” Kibbler’s smile caught his eye.
“If he hadn’t looked up as I passed by, if I had not been paying attention at that exact moment; I would have missed it,” White explained on a GoFundMe page for Kibbler.
White, who said he normally keeps change in his center console to hand out to the homeless, dug through his car and grabbed a $20 bill to give to the sun-baked stranger.
As he approached, Kibbler looked up, his glassy eyes wide open, searching for the man behind the voice.
Slowly realizing the man was blind, White placed the folded $20 bill in Kibbler’s hand and told him what it was.
“Wow, man, no one has ever given me $20 before,” Kibbler said.
From sunup to sundown, seven days a week, Kibbler ventures out into his neighborhood searching for “treasure.” The Vietnam veteran explained to White that he’s trying to give his daughter and four beautiful granddaughters a better life.
White’s heart melted.
“This man is like a wisdom box,” White told CBS News.
The touching story inspired White to ask for the man’s phone number. Kibbler happily rattled off the number, and days later, White visited the man and his family.
Over the past year, he’s made little care packages of food and clothing, shared Thanksgiving dinner and visited Kibbler and his loving family.
“I’ve never met a man of so much faith,” White said. “His faith in God is how he sees the world.”
White wished he could do more. But as a singer/songwriter, he knew he could only afford to do so much.
Then something wonderful happened.
In June, he met a 16-year-old boy at a Kroger grocery store in Memphis. The boy, Chauncy Jones Black, asked White if he could help take groceries to his car in exchange for a package of glazed doughnuts.
White agreed, and he discovered the teen is trying to support his disabled mother. Shortly after, he posted about the encounter on social media – and it went viral. He started a campaign called Chauncy’s Chance, which raised more than $341,000.
It was stunning, and White wanted to keep the positivity going. That’s when he thought of his old friend JP.
He shared Kibbler’s story on a Facebook page he originally made for Chauncy, and again, people jumped in to help.
“You can make a significant amount of change with a very insignificant amount of time,” White said.
So far, the campaign for Kibbler has raised more than $25,000.
Kibbler says sales from his cans brings in about $100 a month, which is just enough, with to his disability money, to keep his family afloat. With these additional funds, he should be able to take care of the bills for awhile – and maybe even take some time to enjoy his family.
“He does enjoy being active; he says it ‘keeps [him] from rusting,’” White joked. “Hopefully, this will give him some time to enjoy his family and get them into a nicer rental property, a safer home for the girls.”