Cherry Nguyen wasn’t expecting to start a mini-movement, but that’s exactly what happened during a recent lunchtime rush at Torchy’s Tacos in Rice Village. “I was running around doing errands, really in the weeds,” says the Texas Children’s Hospital employee. “But this gift made my day, and made me want to stop and do something nice for someone else — so I did.”
The gift Nguyen received was free lunch, courtesy of Frost Bank. A CultureMap team surprised Torchy’s diners with a $10 gift card, courtesy of Frost Bank, as they were ready to check out. As many as 50 diners received free grub, as well as fun swag including caps and notebooks. The Rice Village location was awash in smiles and thanks in a veritable pay-it-forward fest.
It’s all part of Frost’s Opt for Optimism initiative, which encourages Houstonians to build optimism through a spirit of generosity, specifically by surprising strangers with a random act of kindness via the card. Whether you gift a cup of coffee, tacos, or the card, the idea is to share your good fortune with others — and ultimately, start a movement.
Once you’ve spread the joy, you’re encouraged to share your story on social media using the hashtag #frostitforward.
Many Torchy’s diners who experienced the pay-it-forward moment immediately did the same. Nguyen paid for the person after her, who, in turn, paid for the following customer. “I think this is absolutely amazing,” says Nguyen of the Frost It Forward theme. “Ever since Hurricane Harvey, we’ve learned that you never know what someone is going through. So it’s amazing to be able to make someone’s day.” Nguyen says she plans to use her gift cards in the future, which she apparently has.
If you’re looking to make a difference or make someone’s day, check out our handy guide to local charities, presented by CultureMap and Frost Bank. And be on the lookout for the CultureMap team and follow along on Instagram or Twitter — you never know where we’ll pop up next to spread the joy.
Jacob Power contributed to this story.