A kind act by one man set off an avalanche of kindness from strangers, and provided one hardworking, elderly man with more than $175,000.
Fidencio Sanchez has been strolling the streets of Little Village in Chicago selling paletas, or Mexican ice pops, for more than 23 years. It used to be a family affair until his wife became too weak to help out with the business. A few weeks ago, the 89-year-old man tragically lost his daughter, leaving he and his wife to care for their two grandsons. “We thought, ‘What are we going to do? We have to pay the bills,'” Sanchez said. So he continued to do what he had been doing all along, working almost sun up to sun down, in every season, providing delicious ice cream for the community.
“It’s really hard working out here in the streets, in the summer and cold winter,” Sanchez said. “Even in bad weather we still have to go out and sell and the carts get stuck in the streets.”
Joel Cervantes Macias was visiting his old neighborhood when he saw the familiar face of Sanchez still pushing the cart that he remembered as a kid.
Macias pulled over to take a picture of him to share on social media, bought 20 paletas and paid him $50 (more than the cost). Once he heard about Sanchez’s recent loss, he was heartbroken.
Macias’ friend Joe Loera had the idea to start a GoFundMe fundraiser to raise $3000 to help Mr. Sanchez with expenses, but the response was overwhelming as people who recognized the ‘paleta man’ started to give and share the page with others. More than 8,000 people have contributed over $176,000 to the fund in just two days!
“I was very surprised,” Fidencio Sanchez said through a translator. “I am very thankful for the men that thought of doing this. … I am very thankful for the favor.”
Sanchez still plans to keep working for now but is finally considering retirement.
“Well, seems to me like it won’t be necessary anymore and I will be able to rest more at home,” Sanchez said through the translator. “It means a lot, and the changes will be that there will be no need for me to work, and we will have help in all aspects; Like getting better clothes and things that will improve our life at home.”
What a beautiful conclusion for this kind and caring man.