Donations For Elderly Little Village Paleta Vendor Top $354,000

By Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Thousands of people from around the world have come together to raise money via a “GoFundMe” campaign for an 89 year old street vendor. The online campaign was launched by a stranger who bought paletas from the elderly man who was struggling to push his cart down the street.


Donations for an 89-year-old paleta vendor in Little Village have skyrocketed to more than $354,000 in five days, making it the largest GoFundMe campaign ever in Illinois.

More than 15,000 people from all over the world reached into their wallets to give money, ranging from $5 to $2,000 donations, to help Fidencio Sanchez, who has been selling the Mexican ice pops from a pushcart in the neighborhood for 23 years.

The online fundraising campaign was created Friday by Joel Cervantes, a stranger who bought paletas from Sanchez last week and photographed him apparently struggling to push the cart.

The goal was to raise $3,000, but donations quickly surpassed that mark, thanks to contributions from more than 60 countries. The tally not only makes the campaign the largest moneymaker in Illinois but also puts it among the top 25 campaigns in the U.S., said Bobby Whithorne, a spokesman for GoFundMe.

“When I first saw the picture it brought tears to my eyes,” Olivia Baez, who learned about the GoFundMe campaign on Facebook, said in an email. “This was someone who had no other resort but to be working at 89 years old. He wasn’t asking anyone for a handout but working to take care of his family.”

“I’ve heard the term ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ but the picture of Mr. Sanchez is worth so much more. He is from Little Village, I am from Little Village and this is who we are,” said Baez, who made a donation.

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