Recently in Chicago, an 89-year-old man, Fidencio Sanchez, a paleto or popsicle vendor was forced out of retirement and back to work. He had only been retired for a short time, but then his daughter passed away and he was forced to go back to work to support her children. One good Samaritan came along, snapped this photo of Mr. Sanchez in his old neighborhood and started a “Go Fund Me” account which is now the largest in Illinois history.
H/T Lemont Patch:
CHICAGO, IL — The sympathy began with a simple photograph and a stranger’s desire to put some money into the pockets of a struggling, elderly popsicle vendor in Chicago. How much money? A few thousand dollars would go a long way.
In just a few days, however, the generosity swelled to more than a quarter of a million dollars.
As of Wednesday, donations from 15,225 people in 52 countries topped $330,000. This is now the largest GoFundMe effort ever in Illinois.
Fidencio Sanchez, a slight-but-sturdy man of 89, has won a lottery of the heart — and he is overwhelmed.
He has been selling ice pops in the Little Village neighborhood of the Illinois city for 23 years.
Mr. Sanchez had been retired just two months when his daughter passed away in July.
His wife, who also used to sell the ice pops, was forced to quit in the summer because of failing health.
“We thought, what are we going to do? We have to pay the bills,” the Spanish-speaking vendor told ABC News through a translator.
Every day, the paletero pushes a frozen-treat street cart on the sidewalks of his Little Village neighborhood in Chicago. He stocks up with a few hundred popsicles, called paletas, and selling them brings him a few bucks a day. On a good day, he might earn $50. On a sweltering hot day, maybe $80.
He’s been the neighborhood ice cream man since 1993. Sanchez retired this summer, but when his daughter died and his wife Eladia fell ill, Sanchez was forced to go back to work.
Joel Cervantes Macias just wanted to help. As the Wisconsin restaurant owner drove through the Chicago neighborhood where he was born and raised, Cervantes spotted the old man. He stopped, bought 20 paletas and handed over $50.
The photo above is Sanchez with Joel Cervantes Macias, left, and Jose Loera, who set up his GoFundMe page.
“It broke my heart seeing this man that should be enjoying retirement still working at this age,” Cervantes later wrote on GoFundMe.
He snapped a photograph — a striking portrait of the hunched, elderly man pushing the heavy cart — and posted the image to his Facebook page. It was shared 400 times. A friend, Joe Loera, decided they should do do more. He wrote a moving plea on GoFundMe and asked for $3,000.
On Monday afternoon, the GoFundMe had grown to $150,000.
By Tuesday, the “Relief for Fidencio” GoFundMe had grown to $280,000. As of noon on Wednesday, the fund was at $330,000.
Still out pushing his popsicle cart last weekend, Sanchez says he likes to work. Sanchez was orphaned at 6 months and has been working to support himself since he was 13-years old — first in the fields of his native Morelos, Mexico, and since 1990 in Chicago.
“I am very thankful for the men that thought of doing this,” Sanchez told the Chicago Tribune in Spanish, his granddaughter, Dulce Perez, interpreting. “I am very thankful for the favor.”
What a story of compassion and generosity towards our elderly. This is certainly something we don’t hear about often enough in today’s society. I’d say the good Lord is looking down on Mr. Sanchez and saying “thank you” along to him and a few other generous people around the world. Mr. Sanchez’s story has certainly melted a few hearts.