Owners collect food to fulfill “‘social responsibility,’ honor friends
When Harry DeMarco traveled to Milan almost 20 years ago, he found a little inspiration that went a long way.
The fashion businessman had opened HD’s Clothing Company six years
earlier and frequently traveled to Europe with his wife, Vicki, for the latest trends. As he walked by Giorgio Armani’s original clothing shop, the designer himself set up the front displays, as was his weekly habit on Fridays.
DeMarco watched as the famous fashionista stacked food cans behind the broad panes.
“I thought, now what a great idea!” said DeMarco. “I started to wonder, how can we help the community via the customer?”
The DeMarcos regularly gave food to Emily, a woman who frequently came to their store in search of donations. They quickly decided that if she needed food, surely others did as well. From there, HD’s annual canned food drive was born.
“We all have social commitments within the community to take care of people,” said DeMarco.
For the past 19 years, all of the canned donations have gone to the West Dallas Multi-Purpose Center and the AIDS Resource Food Pantry. Emily, their neighborhood friend, frequented the West Dallas Center, which is why they became one of the recipients.
DeMarco explained that many of his good customers passed away from AIDS throughout the epidemic. Ray Kuchling, who now has a memorial award named after him at the annual Black Tie Dinner, was the second person DeMarco knew who died from the disease.
“Seeing all the people suffer and waste away was terrible,” he said. “It’s not part of what we want to accept in life, but we have to. So we do this in their memories.”
In spite of the fact that DeMarco receives calls every year, requesting donations from the drive, he has remained loyal to the two original beneficiaries. Each year, an average of 1,500 cans are collected at the two stores. Discounts based on the amount of donated cans encourage customers to pursue the good deed in exchange for tangible rewards.
“It’s quite an accomplishment,” said DeMarco. “It’s grown to be exceptional.”
HD’s Clothing Company men’s store is located at 3018 Greenville Ave. The women’s store is at 3014 Greenville Ave. Call the men’s store at 214-821-5255 or the women’s store at 214-821-8900.
The AIDS Resource Food Pantry is located at 3926 Cedar Springs Road. Call 214-521-3390 for more information.
The West Dallas Multipurpose Center is located at 2828 Fish Trap Road. Call 214-670-6340 for more information.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, December 1, 2006.