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Oak Cliff Officials Use Social Media Initiative To Give PPE To Local Businesses

 Council member Chad West (center) with Del Sur Taco owners Ismael and Olmy Sanchez, and their son (far left).
Keren Carrión
Council member Chad West (center) with Del Sur Taco owners Ismael and Olmy Sanchez, and their son (far left).

The new initiative called #WePPEinOC is designed to help local businesses in Dallas' Oak Cliff neighborhood that have been affected by COVID-19.

“We’ve got a huge amount of items: Masks, gloves and lots of hand sanitizer that we are going to package up and take to the business around 75211,” council member Chad West said. West represents Oak Cliff and is leading the project. 

The zip code 75211 has been one of the hardest hit by coronavirus in Dallas County. The area is made up of mostly Latinos who are essential workers. This is why West and other city leaders say it’s important to show the community they are here for support. 

“When you put all of this together you really disenfranchise the community that is an essential worker,” said Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia. “That is the worker that is doing all the work when the rest of the population is sheltering in place.”

On a rainy Tuesday afternoon, West along with other community leaders distributed personal protective equipment and told businesses about the effort. The first business West dropped by was Del Sur Taco on Jefferson Boulevard. 

Ismael and Olmy Sanchez, the owners of Del Sur Taco in Oak Cliff, said many entrepreneurs in the area are struggling with sales. 

“We clean everything anytime someone comes in,” Olmy Sanchez said. “But people are afraid to come out and eat. They don’t want to dine in.” 

"We clean everything anytime someone comes in, but people are afraid to come out and eat. They don't want to dine in." — Olmy Sanchez

Sanchez said she is hoping the extra PPE will help them bring in customers safely. 

Elda Vera, 42, is the daughter of Alfonzo Vera, owner of Panaderia Vera’s, or Vera’s Bakery, in Oak Cliff. They’ve been open since 1995. 

“We use PPE but we run out constantly,” Elda Vera said. 

She said the hardest part of adjusting to safety guidelines has been getting their customers to come in wearing masks. They used to supply masks for the customers but they stopped because of the slow traffic into the shop. 

Gloves at the bakery are in “high demand,” Vera said. 

They've found that personal protective equipment is sold out online and limited to one-per-customer at the local supermarkets. This makes it difficult for them to buy in bulk. They think the extra supplies given by the initiative will help them stay consistent with their customers.

“You see so much negative on social media with everyone talking about what is wrong all the time and I think this is a way we can talk about it in a positive way and support good practices and social distancing and local businesses,” said West. 

West says he hopes the online initiative will motivate the people of Oak Cliff to come together and encourage one another to follow COVID-19 guidelines. 

“The flip side of that is to encourage neighbors to support businesses that are practicing good social distancing, and if they are, to talk about it on social media,” said West.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez and Keren Carrion are Report for America corps members. Alejandra writes about the economic impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities for KERA News. Email her at You can follow her on Twitter @_martinez_ale.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.
Keren I. Carrión is a visual journalist for KERA in Dallas as well as The Texas Newsroom, a journalism collaboration among the public radio stations of Texas and NPR. She is currently a Report for America corps member.