Ethan Whittington, 27, of Midlothian, Va., said he read a news article online about how homeless Boston man Glen James found the backpack full of traveler's checks and cash Saturday and brought it to police to track down its rightful owner, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday.
Whittington said he started a fund Monday on website "GoFundMe" to help James and the donations topped $20,000 in less than 24 hours.
"It started with wanting to help a someone in a small way, and now we can help them in a large way," Whittington said.
He said he is hoping the money will reach $50,000.
"It's a good amount of money to get your feet off the ground," he said.
Whittington said he spoke with James for the first time over the phone Tuesday and they discussed possible ways to get the donations to Boston.
"He sounded happy," Whittington said.
James received an award from Police Commissioner Edward Davis during a ceremony Sunday.