You can get a plate of street-style tacos with a side of kindness at Taco Stop, a small Mexican eatery located right outside of Dallas, TX.
For the past five years, the owner of the place, Emilia Flores, has set up a stand-alone clothing rack to collect and distribute jackets during the cold winter months.
Flores moved to Texas in 1993 and has worked as a psychiatrist for over 20 years. She opened the Taco Stop, which is housed in a former gas station, about 8 years ago. She was inspired to start gathering coats after seeing a rack set up under a bridge in her home country of Mexico.
�I thought it was a wonderful idea, particularly since, when you need help, none of us likes to ask for help,� Flores, 54, told The Washington Post.
Each year, Flores sets up the rack outside of the Taco Stop just before Thanksgiving and it stays up until March. While you might not think Dallas gets that cold, temperatures fall to the 30s and 40s some days and the area gets hit with ice storms from time to time. There�s a sign above the rack that reads, �Are you cold? Take one. Do you want to help? Leave one.�
Flores tries to make it as easy as possible to donate the coats � people can just drop them off, and while she says she can get as many as 50 coats per day, they�re gone just as quickly. For both the people who contribute jackets and those who take them, Flores said the coat rack �empowers people to give them something to do to help, and it empowers people who want help but don�t want to go through the hassle.�
Flores estimates that she�s collected a few thousand coats over the past 5 years, and while most are for adults, she does get some children�s sizes along with other winterwear, like hats, gloves and scarves. While it was mostly her customers that donated coats at first, over the years the project has grown in popularity and now people make a special trip, including church groups, to drop off donations.
The senior group at First United Church dropped off 100 coats, jackets and hand-knit hats to the coat rack this year…
�So many people have an unused coat,� Flores said. �It really, really warms my heart that people are willing to help, as far as doing something for someone else. I really call this … compassion in action.�
Flores is hopeful that the coat rack helps everybody, despite their differences, and that showing compassion for others is much-needed common ground.
�I also think that we live in such a polarized world right now � not only in the U.S., but everywhere,� Flores said. �At the end of the day, we�re all human and we try to take care of each other the best we can.�
Inspired by Flores� amazing act of kindness? You can start your own winter clothing or blanket drive to help vulnerable communities near you. Here�s a good article with some tips on how to get started. Let�s #StartSomethingGood together.
(Source: images & video TacoStopDallas Facebook)