South Bay teen dressed as Batman brings relief to homeless residents

Amanda del Castillo Image
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Teen dressed as Batman brings relief to SJ homeless residents
A teen in San Jose is turning heads. His impressive Batman costume comes second to the services and sustenance he's providing for the city's growing homeless population.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A teen in San Jose is turning heads. His impressive Batman costume comes second to the services and sustenance he's providing for the city's growing homeless population.

Batman's familiar costume is hitting San Jose city streets. However, instead of the character fighting crime, this 19-year-old is feeding the homeless.

"People will notice me and then they'll see what I'm doing," the teen told ABC7 News. "And then they'll notice the problem."

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Under his makeshift costume made of motocross armor and riot gear, the teen is on a mission to connect with the city's homeless population. His effort began last summer.

Behind him, he pulls a wagon filled with food, water and other tools.

Known only as "Batman of San Jose," people living on the streets know his arrival often means a much-needed meal.

"I get food a couple times a week from this guy," homeless resident, Justin Turner said. "I don't even know how he does it."

Since last summer, the teen has used mainly his own money to purchase supplies. However, his growing presence has many reaching out and wanting to contribute.

A new Venmo account and donation site now allow people to contribute directly to his effort. He said the money provides the necessary funds needed for supplies.

The teen added it doesn't take much to purchase food and water for a group of homeless residents. It's one reason he was able to carry on the effort alone for so long.

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Homeless residents are also beginning to recognize he's showing up to help.

ABC7 News watched as several people flagged him down in the downtown area.

One man yelled, "Hello Batman! Can I have some food, please?"

Others stopped to stare, honked, and greeted him from a distance.

ABC7 News was there as he entered a nearby homeless encampment.

"This is my first meal of the day," Turner said. "I've already gone through the $189 in food stamps I have, and it's 12 days early."

Besides food, the teen also offers a friendly exchange.

"Food, water, clothing- these are all very temporary things," he said.

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In all his volunteer efforts, "Batman of San Jose" said he's learned living on the streets has the potential to dehumanize someone.

"Sometimes a conversation is more than enough to help," he shared. "Just because you know, you feel human again."

"Batman" said he's gone out almost every day in the last three weeks, visiting a number of homeless encampments, parks and trails where many homeless people live.

"If I don't continue going, then I don't know if these people will be seen and represented as they should be," he said. "So, I put as much time and effort into it as I can."

For some, there's also a level of nostalgia. Come on, it's Batman!

"I probably won't be hunting him down like I'm the Joker, but if I see him, I know it's somewhere I can go to, that it'd be comfortable for me," homeless resident, Amon Jones said.

After all, Batman famously said, "It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me."

For this teen, that means bringing attention to homelessness. It's a crisis more than 6,000 people in the city are currently experiencing.

To donate to the teen's effort, click here.