Chicago Community Rallies Around Elderly Ice Vendor After Devastating Family Tragedy
Lifestyle| | By Brian Delpozo
A Chicago community has come together around a local ice cream vendor after learning he recently suffered a horrible tragedy.
89-year-old Fidencio Sanchez for 23 years has been pushing his colorfully-decorated paletas (popsicles) cart around the Little Village area of the city. The grueling work is a year-long job for Sanchez, who said, “It’s really hard working out here in the streets, in the summer and cold winter. Even in bad weather we still have to go out and sell and the carts get stuck in the streets.”
Things got harder a few weeks ago when his daughter passed away leaving Sanchez and his wife to care for their two grandchildren. Despite his grief, Sanchez had to quickly return to work.
“We thought, ‘What are we going to do? We have to pay the bills,'” he said later.
Local resident and customer Joel Cervantes Macias was touched by the story, and desired to help. First he shared a photograph of Sanchez on Facebook, then took the further step of setting up a GoFundMe page for Sanchez. The page describes the situation:
“As I was driving down 26th st in the Little Village area in Chicago where I was born and raised. I saw this elderly man struggling to push is (sic) paleta cart (Popsicle cart). It broke my heart seeing this man that should be enjoying retirement still working at this age. I had to pull over and took this picture. I then bought 20 paletas and gave him a $50 and said may God bless him and drove away. I posted this picture on Fb and since then, I’ve gotten a huge response. That’s when Joe Loera came up with a great idea to start this campaign. Mr. Fedencio Sanchez and his wife recently lost their only daughter and are still heartbroken about the situation. His elderly wife was selling paletas also to help pay bills, but she fell ill and can’t work anymore. We’re trying to raise money to help him with whatever we can. Anything helps. Let’s all pitch in and help make life a little easier and brighten both of their day.”
As of press time the page has raised over $154,000, way ahead of its $3,000 goal. In addition, Sanchez has become a bit of a local celebrity, with customers such as Nallely Renteria seeking him out specifically.
“We wanted to see him, buy from him, ask him questions,” said Renteria.
Despite the money and attention, Sanchez has said he is committed to continue working.