Courtesy of Jonathan Garcia
Halloween was always one of our favorite holidays as kids because it meant going to the store with our parents to choose our favorite festive getups. We didn't think about how hard our parents worked to earn the money that paid for our costumes; we simply chose the outfit we wanted and waited for Mom and Dad to do the rest. Sadly, not all kids have someone who can afford to shell out on a Halloween costume that will most likely be worn once before being donated. Fortunately, hundreds of kids will be able to trick-or-treat in a Halloween costume this year thanks to the generosity and goodwill of one man.
Jonathan Garcia, 30, a furniture salesman at Badcock Home Furniture and a part-time personal trainer, lives in Palatka, Florida, a small town located in the north-central part of the state. "Halloween was always my favorite holiday, and growing up we didn't always get to have costumes and go trick-or-treating," he told WomansWorld.com. "Years later, I had my own kid and promised that she would always have the best Halloween possible. Last year, walking around town with her, I saw so many kids out there with just a Walmart bag in hand and no costume, and it brought me back and reminded me [of] how I felt having to walk by Supermans and Batmans as a kid in just plain clothes getting told 'No costume, no candy.'"
With that in mind, Jonathan was determined to make sure local kids whose parents couldn't afford costumes would still be able to take part in the Halloween festivities. "I then set out to do the best I could to provide those kids with that simple Halloween joy and fun."
At the city's annual Fall Festival by the waterfront, Jonathan, who was dressed as Spider-Man, arrived with more than 100 Halloween costumes, many of which he had purchased with his own money. Jonathan gave away all the costumes in less than an hour to dozens of grateful children who just wanted to celebrate Halloween like everyone else.
"Towards the end of the day, I had a small boy come up, Jacob (we had already ran out of costumes), and all he asked for was to meet Spider-Man," Jonathan says. "I stood in costume for a while to at least take pictures with kids. His mom told me he was very sick (I didn't probe into how sick), but he wanted to come out and meet Spider-Man. I walked around with him by the river and listened to his favorite Spider-Man stories. At the end of our walk he hugged me and said that it was the best day of his life to finally meet his hero. Thank goodness I was wearing a mask because I was crying underneath it. I'll always remember that moment.
Inspired and moved by the community's reaction, Jonathan already has plans to do this again in 2019 — but bigger and better. Next year, he doesn't want to have to turn away children.
If you would like to make sure Jonathan can continue giving costumes to any child who wants one, you can send your kids' old Halloween outfits to 1000 St Johns Avenue, Palatka, Florida 32177, or you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org about helping next year.