When local caterer Joe Tom Haby left home Monday morning he was in a rush, which is why he didn’t notice that he lost his bank bag full of customer payments. But luck, and faith, were on his side when a Christian stranger named Javiel Garcia located and returned it intact.
“Javiel has been with us for a little under a year. CHDI hires staff hoping they take to heart our mission, values and philosophy; basically to do the right thing,” said Rachel Gonzales-Hanson, chief executive officer of Community Health Development Inc., where Garcia is employed. “Javiel certainly has done that. We are proud for him and proud of him.”
Haby, who owns Joe Tom’s Catering, says Thanksgiving is his busiest season and the deposit, a mix of checks and cash, was substantial.
“It would have hurt me to lose it,” says Haby. “And it would have made a nice Christmas for him.”
Haby placed the bag on his truck while he was loading supplies, before heading back into the house for a forgotten list. He then rushed off, focused on the tasks ahead of him and all the food he had to prepare to fulfill customer orders.
The bag fell from the truck several blocks away, landing on the street in front of Garcia’s residence.
“I believe God told me to get up early,” Garcia said, speaking of finding the bag in front of his house. “There were several other cars going by.”
Garcia is a married father of seven. Number eight is coming soon, as his wife, Eztrella, is pregnant. Her due date is just around the corner, in early December.
He took the bag with him to work at Our Health/Nuestro Centro de Salud, secured it in his vehicle, and began attempting to reach Haby.
Garcia made multiple calls to Haby, leaving messages, and even sent him a message on social media before he had the idea of calling a representative of First State Bank of Uvalde, who in turn called Haby.
“He was determined to reach me,” Haby said. “He worked hard to get hold of me.”
Rushing to meet orders, and with his wife, Jennifer, by his side, Haby had noted multiple calls and voicemails from one phone number and planned to call it back when things slowed down a bit. Upon seeing his bank’s number pop up, however, he answered, to be told a man had contacted them and said he found the bank bag.
“My heart just dropped,” said Haby, fearing that his hard-earned money was lost. Haby called Garcia, who asked that Haby come immediately, if possible, and arranged to pick up the bank bag Garcia had carefully safeguarded so it was intact, and there was no loss to Haby.
Haby is making Thanksgiving dinner for Garcia and his family to help express his gratitude.
“This guy is a true man of God. He was worried about me getting my property back when a lot of people would have just kept it for themselves,” said Haby in a Facebook post he made describing the incident.
First State Bank of Uvalde president and CEO Chad D. Stary was also impressed.
“On behalf of First State Bank, I would like to publicly express our appreciation to Mr. Javiel Garcia for the act of kindness he demonstrated toward Mr. Joe Tom Haby this week,” Stary said. “More good people like Mr. Garcia is just what we need in the world today. He is a perfect example of looking out for someone else, kindness, honesty and personal integrity.”