Toys from the Heart

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Sometimes you can tell when a stranger carries around a beautiful story. You can see it in their eyes. For others, you have to dig a little deeper, and like a precious stone mine, slowly its magnificence will start to shine.

Daniel is a waiter at Margaritas Cantina in Zona Romantica, one of the most popular bars at the gay strip on Lazaro Cardenas. You may recognize him by his ever-present cap, fit body, and easy-going, flirtatious nature. Underneath it all, there is a greater beauty beyond eye perception.

The interaction first happened by chance as me and the editor of this magazine were brainstorming about interviewing waiters and bartenders. We were at a bar next to Margaritas. “Let’s ask them what they are passionate about, something you couldn’t tell by a simple waiter-client interaction” I said, overexcited. A couple of drinks will do that to me.

Daniel passed by at that moment on the side walk, so I called him to ask him a simple question.

“What do you do in your spare time?” I asked. “I like playing football and I collect toys,” he said.

I was curious and surprised by his answer. He was raised with a degree of scarcity, he said, and looked away. He took a minute to absorb this himself like it was a new piece of news. Then he looked back at me almost guilty and corrected himself. It wasn’t that bad, he said. He had clothes. A glass half-full attitude. This inspired him to start collecting toys and deliver them to the poorest neighborhoods and areas around the city and outer city. It started last year for Children’s Day. “I was just working, I had no clients, and I had time to think and it just clicked.” He mimicked this moment visually, the click, and laughed.

Once with a target in mind, he started telling clients, friends and using his Facebook to ask for donations. By the time Children’s Day arrived, he had hundreds of toys to give away. “People’s response was very good the first time” The second time was for Christmas and the third time for the day of the wise man, getting more toys every time. He also handed out basic food packages on Mother’s Day, with money remaining from cash donations.

When I asked him how many toys he collected last time he immediately said 900, his prompt response was accompanied with visible pride and happiness.

At this point, I was way past the flirty eyes. I saw a compassionate selfless human being. And he had been out here in front of us all, serving us drinks, making us dance. I felt then ashamed, in a way. I’d just drank two or five beers. That’s like two toys.

I left the bar that night inspired myself. Fascinated to hear Daniel’s story, I wondered, “what am I doing to give back to this community?” You may be asking yourself that question.

Daniel is the main source of support of his household. He lives with his mom and two sisters. He wants to collect more than 900 toys by April 30th so if you want to contribute, go to Margaritas Cantina and bring a toy or donation.

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