Small cafe gives away thousands of backpacks, school supplies

DALLAS - Hundreds of families stood in the rain on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd in South Dallas in a line that snaked around the block.

DALLAS - Hundreds of families stood in the rain on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd in South Dallas in a line that snaked around the block.

They were waiting to go inside a small, family-owned restaurant called Trucker's Cafe. On Friday, the restaurant gave away thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies, and new uniforms in various sizes and colors. Next door, Clippin Crownz 4 Christ Barbershop cut children's hair for free.

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"I don't have much, but whatever I have, I just want to share it with everybody," said Trucker's Cafe owner Paulette Johnson.

"Just to see the smile on the little kids face, that's your miracle right there," said volunteer Atonya White.

More than 700 families this year registered for help. Many of them work hard, said Johnson, but making ends meet is even harder.

She believes it's her duty to help because she knows what it's like to go without. She grew up in an out of homeless and battered women's shelters, watching her mom endure a cycle of abuse, and changing schools, sometimes monthly.

"If I didn't go through that struggle, I went through I couldn't do what I do today," said Johnson, through tears. "Just to see all these people out here that needs my help and I'm able to help them, it makes me feel so good."

Johnson doesn't just do a back-to-school giveaway every year. She shuts down her restaurant every Monday in order to feed the homeless. Usually, hundreds show up and eat for free. "Dig deep in your heart and just start giving back and helping," said Johnson. "It's not going to hurt us to help somebody."

Trucker's Cafe is facing its own uncertainty. Johnson says they have to relocate because a new development is taking over the location. She hopes to move nearby, where she can continue making a difference for those in need.

Johnson recently started a 501 (c) (3) non-profit arm called Trucker's Cafe Food 4 Soul that provides food, clothing, and other assistance to the homeless in DFW. You can contact Johnson for information at PauletteJohnson@truckerscafefood4soul.org or 972-815-6124.

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