Elderly street vendor receives outpouring of support to help ‘make life a little easier’

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CHICAGO — Supporters of an elderly man man who spends hours a day pushing a paleta (popsicle) cart through Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood have donated over $115,000 as of Sunday afternoon so he can finally take a break from his work.

It all began when Joel Cervantes Macías was driving through the neighborhood last Thursday and he spotted 89-year-old Fidencio Sanchez struggling to push his paleta cart down the street.

Gustavo Gutierrez, who provides supplies to Sanchez, told DNAinfo he has spent years pushing the cart through the neighborhood, working for hours to earn $50-$60 dollars a day.

“It broke my heart seeing this man that should be enjoying retirement still working at this age,” Macías wrote later.

So Macías pulled over to buy 20 paletas, giving Sanchez $50.  He also also snapped a picture of him before wishing him well and going on his way.

The story could have ended there, but after Macías posted Sanchez’s picture to  Facebook he learned more about his story. Sanchez and his wife recently lost their only daughter, who also helped support them. Sanchez retired two months ago and planned to “take it easy,” Gutierrez told DNAinfo, but he started selling paletas again after his daughter died to support himself and his elderly wife.

So Macías decided to launch a GoFundMe page to help support the couple on Friday, with the goal of raising $3,000.

“Let’s all pitch in and help make life a little easier and brighten both of their day,” Macías wrote on the page.

His post inspired an outpouring of support. By Sunday afternoon the campaign raised over $115,000.

Macías said he plans to give the couple their money live on Facebook Monday, to prove they got it.