The letter, which was unsigned, said: "Saw your (redacted) Taco Stop on the weather Ch. asking for coats to give out! Just a (redacted) way to Drum-Up more business for your (redacted) Tacos !!!”
Then the note told her to “Go get a REAL job ... BEtter yet .... go back across the Border !!!”
The envelope had a New Orleans postmark from December 26th, but no return address.
"How sad that as a response to a kind action, people just have to go and take it to a racist level," said Flores, 54.
Flores, a native of Durango, Mexico, immigrated to Texas in 1993 and is a psychologist by training. She opened the Taco Stop about eight years ago.
"I don’t feel hateful,” she said. “I just think it's so sad that people are out there and they don't have anything else to do but that."
From just before Thanksgiving through March, a rack stands outside Taco Stop where people can quietly and anonymously pick up a coat or leave one without having to talk to anyone. Hundreds of Dallas-area residents have done just that since Flores started the coat donations in 2015. She got the idea after seeing similar charity displays while visiting her native Mexico.
In the winter in Dallas, temperatures fall into the 30s and 40s some days, and sometimes the area gets hit with frigid ice storms. Flores said some people who grab coats from the rack are homeless, and others are struggling financially.
The writer of the hate-filled letter claimed to see the short interview Flores did with The Weather Channel. Texas Monthly ran a story about the incident, and several other media outlets picked up on it. In some online comments, most people were sympathetic and encouraging to Flores, but some made the same accusation as the letter writer.
If the letter writer intended to shame and scare Flores out of her coat charity, it didn't work. She threw the paper away and shrugged her shoulders.
“It’s not going to scare me from doing what I’m doing,” she said. “It is what it is because people are kind. ... I’m not fazed by things like that.”
People sending hostile letters are no different than the ones who have stolen the entire supply of coats off the rack, which happened during the first year of the coat project, Flores said. They do bad things, and that's not something she can control. People still need help, and she will give it.
"I really don't want to respond to those people," Flores said. "People make up their minds and there's no changing it. I don't have the energy or the time."
Since the news of the racist letter began to circulate, customers and friends have expressed encouragement, Flores said. One anonymous customer left Flores a handwritten note that said: “I support you in the coat giveaway. You are a woman of God! Well done!”
Flores said her customers and supporters also haven’t been cowed by the note, and the coat rack has remained as full as ever. Generous coat donors continue to come regularly and provide at least a few new coats a day; sometimes, she gets as many as 50 a day, and the coats go as fast as they come.
“I’m doing what I do,” Flores said. “I’m making a living as honestly as I can, and I help the community in any way I can. There’s nothing else I can do. There’s always going to be someone who is unhappy.”
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